“I believe managing is like holding a dove in your hand. If you hold it too tightly you kill it, but if you hold it too loosely, you lose it.” ~Tommy Lasorda
It was just a thread, just a tiny thread, and I really couldn’t see why it was posing such a problem. Patience was on my side as I worked calmly to remove the thread from the grip of the teeth. Patience was on my side, until it was not. The zipper was stuck. I had followed all of my best instincts to carefully remove the stuck thread from the zipper. I thought, Why won’t the zipper just move? And then, something moved.
The teeth from the bottom of the zipper began to unclench, but the pull had stayed in place, along with my grip on it. In my frustration, I burst into tears, realizing that my impatience had gotten the better of me and left me with a broken zipper. We can replace broken zippers, (though for someone like me who doesn’t sew, the replacement comes at a greater price) but when we hold a death grip on people, relationships can come undone and be very difficult, if not impossible, to repair.
People hold tightly to lots of things other than stuck zippers. They hold to attitudes, fashions, other people, money, belongings, status, and the list goes on. It is always encouraging when I meet people who are willing to let go of their grip on a way of thinking long enough to hear that there is another way of thinking or doing. I know great ways to edit photos, but I am always eager to hear someone who says they have found an easier, faster, or a more productive way to do the job.
Dispensing with attitudes about things we’ve always believed is especially difficult. No one really wants to admit that they’ve been wrong, after all. When I finally let go of my belief that sugar was not dangerous and took my candy jars out of the house, I discovered I felt great! There was enough of a change to encourage me to allow other changes of attitudes and beliefs. What it boils down to is admitting that we don’t always have all of the answers.
We hold tightly to other people. As parents, we hold tightly to our children, and as children we often hold tightly to our parents. Sometimes, we don’t allow people to change. We think of the person we have known and expect them to stay like that forever. With our death grip on who we want them to be, the bottom begins to pull apart as they go in another direction and like my zipper, the relationship cannot be repaired, only replaced.
With Mother’s Day just behind us and Father’s Day on the horizon, I have thought a lot about friends who do not have wonderful relationships with their parents or their children. The grip that has been held on the relationship never allowed the other person to change, and life is all about change.
What if you sat down and wrote a note, or more courageously picked up the telephone, and made the effort to reach out to someone you ‘lost’? What if you went to the person who you have held in a grip of who they once were and let them know you would like to try to replace the old attitudes with a new relationship? New zippers and new relationships are much alike: once you’ve had one break, you never yank at it quite the same again. You are aware of how fragile it actually is.
I’m not nearly the fan of baseball that I am of basketball, but Tommy Lasorda’s words are worth listening to in any walk of life. Actually, they remind me of watching my friend’s little girl hold a baby chick recently. She didn’t want the chick to get away, so she held it very tightly. The chick, however, must have felt threatened and began squirming and pecking, at which point the little girl completely loosened her grip. The chick quickly flew away.
You might not have children, but I bet you have people who work for you or help you in some way. Do you want to be a good manager of people, or hold them so tightly that they are eager to run at the first break for freedom?
What a great opportunity you have today to change from ruling people in an office or other workplace, students in a school, or citizens that you serve to managing them with a loose hold. Let the people you love in your family or friendships have the freedom to be who they are and not who you think they should be. I can guarantee you one thing if you continue your death grip: The zipper on your relationship will break, and no amount of pushing the sides together will repair it.
No one wants a gaping hole where there should be a safe enclosure. Ann Landers sums it up quite well, “Some people believe that holding on and hanging there are signs of strength, but there are times in life when it takes much more strength just to let go.” Let go today of what you must in order to enjoy what is waiting for you.