Give Yourself Freedom This Independence Day

We all make decisions regularly, but something about COVID-19 has given a new sense of urgency to many of those decisions. Whether you’re deciding whether or not to wear a mask, evaluating the level of risk of summer activities and deciding what you are willing to do, or facing tough decisions at work, the emotional attachment to decisions and the fear of being wrong is real. In many ways, we have become enslaved to our decisions – defending them even if we discover we were wrong.

No one wants to admit their decision could have led to increased exposure to COVID-19, that they married the wrong person, that they stayed with a toxic employer too long, and/or that a business decision they made failed. We’re so afraid to be wrong that we’re living in fear of it. So, it’s time to face the fear – because it leads to freedom.

The reason we get so emotional about our decisions is that we associate our identity and worth as a person, business leader, manager on the decisions we make. But the reality is, we all make mistakes – personally and professionally. The path to freedom is to make a conscious effort to detach yourself from the issue. Full disclosure, this is much easier said than done.

Imagine being wrong. Completely wrong. Catastrophe mindset takes over, right? “I’m the stupidest person ever.” “I’m going to get fired.” The list goes on. But what is reality? Reality is you aren’t the stupidest person ever, and chances are you aren’t going to get fired for making a mistake – especially if you handle that mistake professionally.

How do you release attachment? In my experience, it is a conversation you have with yourself; it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else. The more people you involve, the worse it is. Think about it. The more people that tell you how wrong you were, the more defensive you become — and the less likely you are to be able to detach from the decision.

Once you’ve had a conversation with yourself and have swallowed your pride (or at least most of it) and have your emotions in check, you’ll likely need to have an honest conversation with the individuals affected. That conversation would be something like, here is the decision I made; here is the outcome of that decision; here is my understanding of what has gone wrong, and here is my mitigation plan. Never present a problem or a mistake without a proposed solution.

In short, to get from fear to freedom, you have to swallow your pride, manage your emotions, and communicate honestly. Then, you need to take action to fix it.

In my new book, Lessons in Lifecircle Leadership, I share an example of a big mistake I made shortly after becoming CEO of Loretto. While the book hasn’t been released yet, you can get a sneak peek of the introduction and chapter one here.