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Letting Go to Make a Ruckus

change leadership leadership Sep 27, 2018

Written by Lauren DeSimone

This past July I participated in Seth Godin’s altMBA. The altMBA is designed as an alternative business course for “high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead.” Seth Godin calls these individuals ruckus makers because they’re enrolling in the altMBA to learn how to instigate change within their companies and communities. When describing my experience to others, I often said, "It's like going to human school and learning a bit about business.

Each altMBA session brings together a class of 100+ leaders in a virtual workshop setting for four weeks. It is a 30-day sprint during which leaders complete three projects a week, give evaluations to peers on their posted projects, and share reflection summaries in response to the feedback they received. It is 30 days during which bright minds from all over the world thoughtfully challenge their peers’ best ideas. Each week’s projects originate from prompts that encourage one to think, read, and write expansively – with humility, courage, generosity, and no judgment.

One prompt in particular, “Make Good Decisions,” was essential for me. It enabled me to open my mind to new, future possibilities by way of letting go of outdated or fallacious frameworks. These foundations had anchored my decision-making and consequently inadvertently narrowed my perception. I learned to see that the truths informing my thoughts were actually influenced by emotional narratives. Once I saw them for what they were, I learned how to reframe narratives to reflect actual realities.

To do this I first had to understand a few core tenets:
  • Outcomes
    • Good decisions don’t equal good outcomes.
    • A great way to make a good decision is to separate the emotional attachment to the outcome from the understanding of choices in front of you.
  • Sunk Costs
    • Sunk costs are merely gifts from your old self to your new self; future decisions do not need to be made in their honor.
    • Identify sunk costs to illuminate what you think you are afraid of losing; then understand that is an emotional narrative, not a reality.
  • Change Agents
    • It is important to identify agents of change because they sway the way decisions are made and change the way risks are considered.
    • To identify change agents ask, “What occurred that is making you choose to act now?”
  • Framing
    • What got you here is part of your narrative, not part of your decision.
    • When emotions are involved, it is easy to make a reactionary decision in the absence of properly considering options. To ensure goals are leading decisions rather than emotions it is important to ask, “What are the reliable outcomes with consideration to my interests, my present frames, and my available resources?”
Learning the importance of reframing narratives, detaching my emotions from outcomes, and recognizing agents of change all help me make good decisions. When I say good I mean objective, rational, deliberate. This enables me to let go of constraints I didn’t know existed, tap assets I didn’t know I had, and see opportunities that I had overlooked. In letting go I gained the autonomy, creative license, and possibility I need for making a ruckus in our wild world.