Henry Cloud: Don’t be attached to a certain outcome

How can we have the courage to do the right thing? Sometimes it’s not as easy as it seems. Sometimes doing the right thing can affect us negatively. Activists who speak up for just causes but end up being jailed by oppressive regimes would know this to be true. We really don’t know what will happen though until we make that decision. Maybe the activists won’t get jailed and instead triggers a revolution and is deemed a hero.

However, the threat of negative consequences, no matter how unsure they are, is enough to make us cower and decide to do the wrong thing. There is an advice though that can help us during these trying times, and that is: “Don’t be married to a certain outcome.” I read this in the book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud.

In the book, Cloud talks about this CEO who made price cuts. Everything was done to market the product and more, yet the product was not moving. So the CEO realized that this could only mean one thing: the price was too high. He told his team to cut the price. They disagreed with him because they they were afraid that they might not hit the target earnings if they cut the price. The CEO realized though that if they stick with the current price, they’ll have zero earnings, which was even worse than not hitting the income targets. He then ordered the price cut to be implemented, and lo and behold, the products started selling.

Cloud said that this CEO’s strong characteristic was being able to let go of previously desired results. The CEO agreed and said this is important because making the right move can sometimes pose a danger to certain favorable results. Yet we must not shrink at that threat, we must still stand firm with out principles and do the right thing. Paradoxically, doing that allows good things to happen. The CEO summarizes this as “You do the right thing, make the best choice, and ‘let the chips fall where they may.'”

Cloud further reflects on this saying, “He could walk at any time if the conditions were not right. That is power, the power to not do something destructive because you are so free from needing any outcome…You have to be able to face losing some things you might want in order to be free to do the right things. If you can’t you are stuck…You have to be able to let go of the very thing, sometimes the very person that the right choice may cause you to lose…You can’t do the prudent thing if you cannot stand for it all to fall apart…You have to give something up or be willing to lose something in order to gain it.”

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