Hold On Loosely, But Don’t Let Go
There is nothing better than having grandkids. I can remember hearing my grandparents say something similar when I was growing up, I heard my parents say it when my wife and I had young kids, and we surely say it now that we have our own grandchildren. How our perspectives change as we go through life. What we think is important, where we want to spend our time, and the kinds of things we want to accomplish have certainly changed. Our grandson spent the night with us the other night and he and I had ice cream for breakfast the next morning. (Don’t tell his mom and dad if you see them.) I don’t think I ever did that with our own kids. I wish I would have once in a while.
We have four grandkids now, all under the age of 3, and I can’t explain the fun we have with them and the things we learn from them. They definitely have some similarities in their personalities, but they are all fantastic in their own way too. Of course we have no favorites, and can’t want to see each of them again as soon as they leave. I don’t understand how it works that a Papa can have all the love in the world for all of them at the same time, but you do. It’s unexplainable as to how there is always enough caring and serving to go around for everyone. It’s unlimited.
As with most things I do, I began to wonder what these feelings and emotions have to do with other aspects of our lives, like our professional lives and other parts of our personal lives. So let me give you an example. When our oldest grandson comes to visit, he likes to investigate and “look for treasure” outside. We live in a fairly secluded area so have space to get outside and play with the dogs, listen to the birds, watch the cows across the road, and a variety of other things. And he learns to help do chores. As we walk off the front deck and down the steps, he has always reached up his hand for mine so he can balance himself as he walks down. And then he takes off, usually too fast. But he has faith that I will grab his hand and guide him down the four steps out into the yard. Lately he has decided that he can do it himself, so I stay close by but I let him go. Inevitably he is going to go too fast and fall, but I will be there to pick him up. I can imagine that the first time it happens he will turn and look at me to help him up. That’s what faith is all about. Knowing that you’ll be taken care of, and when bad things happen someone is there to pick you up. If you are a spiritual person you have faith in God. But you also have faith in your spouse, in your co-workers, or in your supervisor. At least I hope you do. I hope you have faith that there is help out there when you need it and I hope others have faith in you.
As hard as it is to let him go down the steps by himself, knowing that at some point he may fall, I have to let go and let him try. As a leader, we can’t be too controlling. We have to figure out what our employees are good at and what they’re capable of, match their projects to their strengths, and turn loose a little bit, knowing they may fall. But a good leader will be there to help pick them back up. My grandson will learn new things every day that will help him maneuver the steps he goes down, or any of a myriad of other things he encounters. Our employees will learn from their experiences as well. We have to prepare them the best we can and then turn loose a little bit. Otherwise we won’t ever allow them to reach their full potential.
I can hardly wait for our other 3 grandchildren to begin to walk so we can run through the yard, investigate, feed the dogs, and watch the cows too. We do it now the best we can, but that ability to walk provides them with a freedom to develop their personalities and interests like nothing else. Freedom to try things on our own allows all of us to grow. Even adults. Are we excited about our employees being able to “go up and down steps” on their own? Or are we satisfied, or even happy, that they need us to constantly hold their hand? Can we turn loose a little bit to allow them to flourish, to reach their potential, and to expand their successes for the betterment of themselves and the organization? Like the line from the old classic rock song I still like to listen to, “hold on loosely, but don’t let go”.