The idea of giving up has been given a bad rap.  If we give up, we are quitters.  We might even be losers.  We’re told that the only people who fail, are the ones who give up before they succeed.

But what if when faced with absolute mystery, disbelief and unknown, you were to give up intentionally. In this case, you’re not “throwing in the towel” which is a despondent and negative way to give up.  Instead, you are simply giving up.

You’re admitting you have no idea what the answer may be and that you are open to possibilities.  You’re creating a new opportunity for thought, ingenuity and understanding.

How can you apply this idea to scenarios that happen in your workplace?  

Let’s say you have a product that isn’t selling, a pitch that isn’t coming together or a general malaise about work that is so pervasive in your team, no one is inspired. Including you.  

You have tried everything you can think of and have landed on zero good ideas.  And you are a team that normally thrives on figuring things out and finding the answers.  

But this answer, may be currently in the realm of “not knowing.”  And you can’t know that unless you give up.  A conundrum to be sure but might be worth a try.

Give up “knowing” what to do.  

Admit that something that you haven’t considered or thought of yet, is waiting to appear if you loosen the reins just a bit.  In the real world, you might have your team take a 30-minute walk, play a game, go back to their offices for a mini meditation or work on something completely different for an hour or two.

Or you might ask some questions:

  1. What are the actions that we know won’tlead us where we want to go?
  2. We admit we have no idea how to move forward, but if we did, what would that be?
  3. If our lives depended on us taking an action right now, what would we choose and why?
  4. If we never figure this out, what might happen?

Or you could have the team members identify what is most frustrating about the situation.  And then turn it around and identify what is most fascinating about the situation.

You could decide to take the issue to a wider audience.  Maybe you ask people who are not on your team what their thoughts are.  Maybe you change course completely.  Maybe you take some time to consider what would happen if you scrap the project completely – pros and cons.  Just the willingness to expand your thinking and let go, can allow for new ideas to come through.  

Remember you can always go back to knowing… for now, just give up.