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  • Writer's pictureStephen

Dancing Between Surrender & Control

I had the incredible honor of attending a play this past weekend that was followed by a conversation between the author of the play, the director of the play, the actors in the play, and the audience watching the play! It was quite remarkable. 

One of the themes that emerged in those conversations was the delicate process/dance that everyone had to engage in between holding too much control over the outcomes and surrendering to the beauty of what could be created by inviting others to be co-creators in the process.  For example, the author talked about how he had to surrender his words on a page to the director and her ability to envision sets and images and music that would accompany those scenes. They also talked about how they had to let go of some of their notions of what the characters would be like when the actual actors started bringing their own unique ideas and perspectives to the table. What was abundantly clear was that everyone felt the final outcome of the production was so much better having everyone contribute as co-creators, rather than having a singular image from just one perspective drive the final product.

I'm still thinking about that dance between control and surrender and all of the places in life it applies.  

Parenting feels like a long journey from mostly being in control to a place of mostly not being in control at all!  It's a lifetime of learning how to surrender in a way that allows the beauty and individuality of each unique child to become their own amazing person.

Working on a team feels like another place where this dance is crucial. We may have a collective job to accomplish, and I may have certain areas of responsibility that I contribute toward that objective, but if I try and force other team members to do their part the way I think it should be done, there isn't any room for the uniqueness of each individual to join into the creative process. The outcome would suffer and be limited to my vision of what I think it should be. But, if I am willing to allow others to bring their perspectives and personalities into the process, I am sure the final outcome will be even better than if everyone just did their job my way! 

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the applications I see here in the realm of leadership.  Too often I have seen leaders who feel threatened by the ideas and creativity of people they are leading, so they don't engage in this dance between control and surrender.  Rather than inviting the people they are leading to become dreamers with them about how to go after their common vision, they simply expect alignment with them and their ideas.  You may have heard this referred to as leaders who simply surround themselves with "yes" people - no one to stretch or challenge them.  No one to enter into the creative process with them.  Just individuals who will stick with the program and follow directives. While those kind of leaders are very good at getting the outcomes they want, I believe those outcomes are not as awesome and beautiful as they might be if they were willing to dance more between surrender and control.

What are the areas of your life that could benefit from more dancing between surrender and control? How could believing in a more beautiful outcome from collaboration help you trust others and invite them into the creative process with you?  What would it take for you to create some room for people around you to have more freedom to bring their own perspectives and gifts to the creative process? 

Here's to dancing between surrender and control this week!

Be Well,


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center.  We specialize in professional coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you!  Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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