Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Letting Go to Thrive!

The Thriving Essentials Series: Episode 2


Two weeks ago, we sunset The Mindset Series, where we explored beneficial mindsets worth cultivating, like patience, self-control, and peacefulness. As with soil cultivation, cultivating the right mindset requires hard work, determination, and focus. Now, you may be thinking: Why would one engage in such an arduous task?
To pursue the answer to this question, last week, we introduced The Thriving Essentials Series, where we will uncover the prime benefits of a healthy mindset. One may refer to these as leaving a life of mere existence, living with vigorous growth, and thereby thriving.

Sounds alluring! But as we all know, there is no prescribed formula for thriving. One cannot say to another: Run three miles a day on hilly terrain, eat 1800 calories daily, do two medical checkups annually, make four new contacts each month, keep in regular contact with ten confidantes, earn a promotion every three years with a minimum 12% salary bump, and you will thrive! Alas! If only life were so easy!
As it is not, we must carve and pursue a purposeful path considering others and our dreams while becoming intimately familiar with our superpowers and growth opportunities. Therefore, recognizing our individuality and shared humanity, I will not present a formula for thriving. Instead, I will share experiences and insights we may consider and leverage.

To dawn, let us explore a vital art often overlooked! Here, I am referring to Letting Go.

A natural tendency. A trained habit.

We instinctively know how to hold on!
Parents and any who loved and cared for a baby have likely experienced this. After developing an inexplicable fondness for you, the baby lovingly wraps her arms tightly around your neck and does not let go. Soon after, she flashes an irresistible smile as she digs her tiny, sharp nails into your arm. At such a moment, you cannot help wondering how someone overflowing with immeasurable cuteness could cause such discomfort. 😊 But the uneasiness quickly subsides because her gestures tell your heart that you are wanted, needed, and loved.
Fast forward many years later: During an economic downturn, she expresses an intense desire to quit her job, and her parent encourages her to hold onto the job despite the discomfort it causes.

Undoubtedly, holding on can be a good thing. But when misguided, ill-intentioned, or in the wrong circumstance, it is not so good! To better illustrate this, I’ll share a story.

An unbridled desire

Many years ago, I learned of a disturbing story of a leader and an employee. Here, we will rename the leader, Jennifer. Recruited straight out of college, Jennifer had spent her entire career at the same company, and her loyalty to the organization seemed second to none. Over the years, her efforts benefited the company. But her Achilles heel was a character flaw she camouflaged: She expected others to be staunchly loyal to the organization and her. And grew bitter when she perceived they were not!

A couple of decades into her career, Jennifer received a golden opportunity to work with a young employee groomed to be an executive leader in the organization. Excitedly, she jumped at the chance, reasoning it would propel her career as she would assume credit for the growth of the young employee. However, within a few months, Jennifer’s weaknesses began to seep through her tightly stitched veil. – She made several comments to the employee that indicated that she was insecure and felt slighted by her superiors because they had not promoted her to an executive level. But her ultimate shock came when the young employee she believed was her ticket to the top communicated a desire to leave her organization!

Instantly, Jennifer was incensed and feared what the departure of the young employee would do to her reputation. To assuage her fears, she did everything and almost anything to hold on to the employee.

Holding on at all costs

Refusing to accept the possibility of losing the employee, Jennifer began to intimidate and tarnish her reputation across the organization. – She would often tell her: You are good but have much more to learn, and it is a wild corporate world out there, but I have clout. If you stay close to me, you will go places.
Also, when other business leaders showed interest in the employee, Jennifer would say she was developing the employee and could not support a transfer. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, Jennifer’s ill-intended efforts limited growth prospects for the employee, who eventually decided to leave the company.

When I heard this story, I was aghast! It reminded me of Cruella De Vil, the dastardly villain in British author Dodie Smith’s 1956 creepy yet amusing novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. Unfortunately, such corporate antics are not scenes from a literary work of art intended to captivate an audience. They are the everyday reality of some in the workplace. Perhaps you have experienced this. Or know someone who has.

The Power of Letting Go

As we all know, holding on is a vital life skill, but knowing when and how to let go is invaluable for thriving.
In the story above, Jennifer’s decision to hold on to an employee for dear life rather than let go was a grave mistake. – We could imagine several reasons that drove Jennifer to hold on so tightly: Perhaps she was afraid of what she would lose if the highly skilled employee left her team. Or perhaps she was afraid the employee’s departure would tarnish her reputation, casting her as a leader incapable of retaining top talent. Or the mere presence of the employee may have aroused envy in Jennifer by reminding her of who she was in yesteryear when her dreams were unbroken.

Regardless of Jennifer’s reasons for holding the employee captive, her decision and actions led her to lose what she craved most: She failed to realize that letting go could have resulted in losing a valuable employee but gaining a loyal friend: One who could sing her praises and enhance her reputation in a manner she could not have.
Could it be that the young employee was the ticket to Jennifer’s promotion after all, but she failed to redeem it?

Friend, Letting go is essential to thriving. By letting go of what tethers one, like fear, ego, and control, one becomes free to live, love, and be loved. – This is the power of letting go.
And I leave you with this: What are you holding onto that you must release to thrive?

Until next time!

For you and to you,

Image credits: Pexels | The Lazy Artist Gallery



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