Friday, June 06, 2008

Grip

As we begin to lose control over our personal lives our first response is to tighten up our grip and reign in what we have let slip. This happens in relationships as well. We feel distance being created between us and others, so we tighten up our grip and try not to let the distance get too far away. Work is no different. Professionally we see too many projects and inevitably something steers out of control, so we grip harder in order to get things back on track.

The fact is, the more we feel like we are losing control the more we try to gain control by gripping harder. The force of our grip has and interesting effect in all spheres of life and our natural reaction to increase our grip is potentially facilitating our loss of control.

There is a lot we can learn about life through what we know about sports. In sports we know that the tighter we grip an object the less control we have over that object. The reason being that the tighter our muscles are the less mobility they have and we restrict our range of motion. This is not a new revelation or cutting edge philosophical thought, it is simply what coaches and athletes have known for years.

The way that this relates to life is by analyzing the grip you have on anything in your life and the returns you are receiving through your grip.

Keep your kids under a microscope and prevent them from actually learning by trying, and your kids will rebel against you causing tension in your relationship (while still doing what you are trying to prevent them from doing). Rule your employees with an iron fist and see how long it takes them to resent you (while still doing what you are trying to prevent them from doing). Cut yourself off from enjoying life’s pleasures to try and create a greater sense of discipline in your life and see that you mind will focus on what you are trying to avoid (therefore causing you to do what you are trying to prevent yourself from doing).

In every aspect of life the tighter we grip the less chance we have of succeeding. In life, like in sports, everything needs wiggle room, everything needs to have the opportunity to fail, and everything needs to breathe independently from your control. Our inability to figure out the right amount of tension in our grip is the difference between success and failure, the difference between flourishing and floundering.

Our greatest strength is not how strong of a grip we have, but our willingness to loosen up our grip at the right time. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that “method is more important than strength”. If you are experiencing loss of control in your life it is time you focused on the methods you are operating under, not the strength you have over your operations. Master this and you will see better returns with less expended energy, just like any great athlete.

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