Over the past few weeks the theme of being attached to outcomes continues to surface. Many of us go into conversations with a map in our head of how we expect a certain conversation to go. My father used to tell me all the time that he would prepare for every meeting by thinking through in his head all the possible things that can happen so he can be prepared. It made sense to me in the past, but many times when you have preconceived ideas of where a conversation will lead we miss the greatest opportunities that might be right in front of us. We look to control the conversation and direct it toward our desired outcome, and if we don’t get what we expected we tend to get disappointed.
When I was in my mid-thirties I had a very memorable conversation with my older brother, Ken, and he brought up this concept of being attached to the outcome. He explained that the more attached we are to the outcome the more challenging life becomes. It was the first time that this concept had been presented to me. Over the years I have often reflected on that conversation and today I believe that the more we can be open to possibilities and the less attached we are to the outcome the better. This is especially true with our children. I don’t know about you, but I surely have an idea of what would be best for our kids. The only problem is that it’s their life not mine. I need to let go of my desired outcome so they can be the person they were meant to be, not the one I see for them.
In most business situations, we look for cues during conversations around body language and certain words that might open a door to take the conversation in the direction we expected, to achieve a desired outcome, until it doesn’t happen that way. I spent the first 35 plus years focused on the outcome of each situation. I didn’t allow the situation to just unfold and see where it took me, I knew what I wanted and I probably missed so many possible turns that I could have taken.
At this point in my life I believe we are all exactly where we are supposed to be, all the time, so my history is just that and I try not to judge myself on the past. I have to say that my conversation with my older brother many years ago opened my eyes to what I was doing and it’s a daily practice to not be attached to those outcomes. It’s been almost two decades of awareness and I still get caught in that cycle. Over the past few years I’ve become much more flexible and allowed myself to enter situations without any end result in mind other than trying to get to know the person that I’m speaking with. My approach didn’t change over night and I still struggle many times just letting things be.
I recently wrote about why we go to networking events. My initial thoughts when I started networking decades ago was to go looking for business. That has changed at this point in my life, now I go looking for people that fit through a screen of the types of people I want to meet or get to know better. If I meet some people that fit this profile then great, and if not that’s fine too. The experience just tells me that I should, or should not, be attending more events put on by that organization.
I have met so many people that seem to be attached to a predetermined outcome. I can only recognize it because I am often there myself. I believe that it not only limits our existing relationships, it limits the possibilities right in front of us. I believe that the more we let go, the more we are present to what’s in front of us and live in the moment the better.