Letting Go

Did you hear about Andrew Honnold?
He accomplished one of the most amazing displays of human potential that will happen in our lifetime. He wasn’t the first to climb the sheer 3,000-foot face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, but he was the fastest, and by the way, he did it without ropes. See the video HERE. There are plenty of articles available that do a much better job of describing this feat than I could begin to attempt. I am just watching and admiring from below and wondering what I can learn from him and apply to my life. When you watch video of Andrew on a mountainside, he is so relaxed and casual. His calmness belies the danger; but when the right camera angle reveals the distant to the forest floor, my mind screams, “hold on!”. But it occurs to me that what makes Alex amazing, is knowing exactly when to let go an trust his training and experience and make the next move up.
I had to get a new iPhone. The old one won’t maintain its charge for any reasonable amount of time. For example, going from 80% charge to 10% charge in 20 minutes. I was prepared even to switch carriers if it meant getting the phone thrown in, but in the end the cheapest way was to pay the deductible and get a replacement. My new phone was here the very next day. It was beyond simple. They send a new (refurbished) phone in the box complete with a set of earbuds and a new charger. (Big score since the cats have ruined every other pair of headphones.)
Poor wi-fi connection not withstanding, the transfer was smooth until it came to the contacts. Somehow about 40 contacts didn’t make it to the new phone. What I expected to take just a couple of minutes turned into several hours of watching videos, downloading apps for contacts, backing up contacts in every possible format, but still no transfer to the new phone. I am certain there is a solution and thankfully a friend who works in the Apple store is coming to dinner. I am guessing he will have the transfer complete in five minutes.
I really need to be done with this and move on. When I opened the new phone yesterday, the Planning Fallacy bias kicked in which is basically the tendency to grossly underestimate how long a task will take to complete. After spending so many hours on it yesterday and a couple this morning, I realized the problem wasn’t about the contacts. The problem was with my unwillingness to let go and move on to the important things right in front of me. Of the 40 yet-to-be-transferred contacts there may be 2 or 3 I really need and those I can like get when the next text message comes in. The contacts weren’t holding me back from doing other things. I was stuck because I wouldn’t let go and trust I would be okay.
My friend owed me a phone call, one that was two weeks overdue. I have provided content for a project of his. In honor of a commitment I made to him, I provided the content as a gift but with a couple of stipulations for its use. He hadn’t called me because of some hesitancy about those stipulations, but as we talked, it was clear to both of us that the place he was really stuck was in facing the reality of now being fully responsible for the project and its manifestation.
In my past life as a camp executive, I had one specific regret, I held onto an employee for several months longer than I should have and it cost me plenty of pain. The reasons to say goodbye were in plain sight. Those above me wanted to hold on for fear of a lawsuit (sound familiar to anyone). But I held on because I thought I needed this person. Big mistake and once that person was gone everything and everyone made one more move up the mountain.
Alex Honnold didn’t just roll out of bed one Saturday and say. “I think I will go climb that mountain over there”. He knows every foot of the ascent because he has been there. Before he went up without ropes, he went up several times with ropes just to be familiar with where to hold on and when to let go. He even backed off the free climb on a previous attempt because it didn’t feel right.
What is waiting up the mountain once you decide to let go? It’s hard to let go of what feels safe and comfortable in the moment. Letting go is risky, but sometimes holding on can cost you your soul.

Rick Burris

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