I have hard time letting go. I work hard to find the right balance between the dings of my email, Twitter alerts, and text messages on my iPhone and the time I spend with my family (see my post on The Good and Bad of NOW). But when I’m at work, I’m at work. I have a hard time letting the hard-working, smart people we’ve hired fly off on their own without my edits, perspective, input or help. In the words that G.I. Joe turned into conventional wisdom, I suppose that “knowing is half the battle.”
So when I took a few “vacation” days last week to move into a new house, I was planning to check email and review documents on my iPhone. I forgot that moving requires complete immersion…at least for me. In a display of my serious compulsion for order, and with the help of my generous family, we were completely unpacked within 48 hours. Another major task to check off the list!
Over the two days of my move, I tried to check my email, but I had a few moments when my heart started racing after realizing that I had not even glanced at my iPhone for four hours. I raced to find it in the mess of boxes and paper, and quickly scrolled through my messages, scanning for problems. Each time I discovered, to my relief, that not only was everything under control, it was flourishing.
Starting and growing InkHouse (we’re up to 25 employees now) has found me balancing on the rough edge between control and letting go. Although we’ve certainly tried at times, Meg and I cannot run the business on our own, and learning how to let others take the reigns has been a critical piece of our growth. We’ve tried to find tangible ways to infuse this belief in our culture here at InkHouse. It’s something we can always do better, of course. But I am grateful for opportunities that remind me about the importance of letting go.
Letting go does two things that matter. It fosters responsibility and helps to sprout new ideas. Removing the boss from the equation creates space for new ideas that aren’t shaped by the inherent propensity for employees to agree and defer. With the boss away, employees have an opportunity to truly own their work and contribute unique ideas.
MG Siegler’s month-long email ban may be the boldest commitment to letting go that I’ve seen and I’m impressed. He’s officially back on email, and I was not surprised that he didn’t miss it. Email quickens the pace of each day and spreads a good amount of stress and chaos in its path, but unfortunately, I’m locked in. On the plus side, I am thinking about plans for a real vacation some time soon – one without email.