I have a colleague who was watching with dismay some of the changes happening at her former place of employment. Decisions were being made that were in contrast with the direction she would have chosen and it was painful to her to think about the implications without being able to influence them.

“It’s not your circus, not your monkeys,” I said, quoting a popular meme.

“Yes,” she replied. “But I put up the tent.”

It is challenging to want to control things over which we have no control, and futile to waste energy trying to do so. As I wrote about on Friday, our impact and legacy live on far beyond our tenure in an organization. But our emotional attachment needs to remain in the past, not in the present.

“It is very difficult, if not impossible, to relinquish and attach at the same time,” wrote Erin Hilderbrand. They are wise words to live by.

Let yourself walk away from the old circus and focus your gifts on raising a new big top. Because you pitched the last tent well, the show will go on – without you – and your new monkeys need all you have to give.

Source: Summer People, by Erin Hilderbrand, 2010, p. 113.


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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