We never truly know what life is going to throw at us — and 2021 certainly threw a lot. The best way one leader has learned to deal with it all? By letting go.

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. We never truly know what life is going to throw at us — and this year certainly threw a lot. 

From a global pandemic to many businesses shutting down. From discovering how we want to live our lives to juggling homeschooling and working from home. From employees leaving (voluntarily or not) to having months of huge profits. From buying new homes and changing careers to everything else. 

Many people experienced events unfold in their lives that they didn’t ask for or want. Others had pleasant surprises. A lot of us experienced both. But whether it’s a positive event or a setback, it doesn’t really matter — it’s still just an event. The biggest leadership lesson I’ve learned in 2020 is this: Let go, and then act. 

Let go of any attachment to the event — yes, even the positive ones! Let go of needing a certain outcome to occur. Let go of the emotion swirling around the latest news. Let go of wanting to be right. Let go of the fear, the restlessness, the uncertainty, the joy, the pain, the excitement. Let go of it all.

But let’s not confuse letting it go with giving up, being passive or abdicating action. In fact, it’s the opposite. You have to let go and then act. Let go of the emotion, energy and ego that cloud your decision-making and then act with clarity of purpose and passion to move the needle forward on your life and or business.

If you had a huge month of profit, great. Let go, and then act. If you hold onto the high of increased profits, then you may end up making a poor decision around money. 

You may hoard the money and miss an investment opportunity. Or you may spend frivolously, thinking another big month of profit is right around the corner. Or you could start chasing after the next bigger month and be careless of anyone standing in your way. 

Either way, you’ll end up chasing after the future or hanging on to the past and getting pulled away from the present moment. Let go of these emotions and energy. Let go of the outcome, and then act from a place of clarity. When you don’t need a specific outcome (like another high month of profit), then the decisions you make will guide you toward the next right action for your business. 

If your number of client appointments was down this quarter, great. Let go, and then act. If you hold on to this feeling of being behind, it may cloud your judgment. You may end up pushing prospects too hard and turning them off. You may end up burning the candle at both ends and burning out

Once again, let go of how you’re feeling and the outcome, and then act from a place of clarity. If you don’ t need 10 client appointments to feel whole and complete, then you are able to operate from a place of calm, clarity and completeness that clients can feel. 

You will end up taking action — because that’s the key, you must take action — from this place of confidence and clarity, and end up attracting more clients to you. 

As a leader, 2020 has tested me in more ways than one. And each time, I come back to this mantra: Let go and then act. Let go and then act.

You have to accept the reality that’s in front of you (PPP loans and PPE, school closures and curbside pickup, high unemployment rates and low mortgage rates). When you try to fight (or ignore) reality, you can’t lead. 

Acknowledge what is happening, and let go of being able to control the outcome. Only then can you really see clearly. From this place of clarity, leaders can and must act. Leaders act by making the best decision for the organization with the best information they have at the time. And if they get it wrong, they let it go and make a new decision.

Great leaders are not the ones who get it right all the time, rather, they are the ones who are willing to take action, make the tough decisions, communicate those decisions and provide clarity to their team (or clients), and then do it all over again when another unexpected event comes their way. 

This year, more than ever, I have come to understand that life is just one big dance, and she is always in the lead. I can let go and let her lead, yes. And, I can take action and create my own dance steps along the way.

Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s holistic approach to business here.

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