The Power of Letting Go: Arriving At Your Organization’s Optimal Altitude

Joe SampsonStrategy, Team

The Power of Letting Go: Arriving At Your Organization's Optimal Altitude

We’ve all heard some variation of a resonant quote about the power of letting go which reminds us that, “the more we let go of the things that weigh us down, the higher we can fly.” For some reason, this has always summoned the ever-exquisite flight of a hot air balloon to my mind. You see, when a balloon first takes flight, sandbags are used to weigh it down and keep it from blowing away. To fly, some of those must be released. Once the balloon is airborne, remaining sandbags are shifted around to adjust its elevation. Simply moving the airbags to different positions around the balloon will adjust how high or low it’s able to fly. There’s a powerful business metaphor in there if we consider the “balloon” our business/organization and the “weights” anything that might be holding it down.

Recently and of course a handful of times through our marketing agency’s 8.5 years of business, we’ve been forced to let go of clients. Most often this was our decision based on fit or insurmountable client challenges, a few times it was a mutual decision based on shifts in strategy or direction on the client side, and on a couple of occasions, it was painful as it was a client decision based on reasons beyond our control. Most recently, it was the latter, and boy was it painful.

A client we cared deeply for as individuals, as a team, and as a business decided to move on from our agency after 7.5 years of work together. We experienced and overcame challenges together, grew together, and celebrated countless wins as a family but in the end, they had to make this decision based on reasons beyond our control. It was of course painful but as is often the case, we quickly realized the consistent truth I shared at the outset of this post: the more we can let go of, the higher we can fly. So this time we chose not to fight it. We didn’t offer to lower our rate while adding more value as we’d done so often before in these instances. We simply decided to let it go and shift some weights in our balloon so we could use this challenge as an opportunity to fly a little higher as an agency. This wasn’t easy for us but we all agreed it was best as we parted ways and hoped the best for our valued clients and friends.

As has happened in so many of these instances–especially with legacy clients–what we let go of was a scope of work that had grown and grown over the years while our pricing for it was constantly driven down by client need, even in the face of ever-growing costs. In the end, letting go of this client made room for a new client who could enter at our current pricing/value, and just like that, we found ourselves flying a little higher. Do we miss our valued client who we invested so much in over the years? Very much and we’re hopeful that we’ll work together again someday. But do we also understand that in this instance letting go allowed us to breathe thinner air? Indeed.

For our agency, the power of letting go or shifting the weights on our business can most typically be found in client business. What weights are you holding onto in your business? It could be as simple as outdated software or processes that might be holding your team down or as complex as declining customer experience and perceived product value. Whatever those weights are in your business I’d encourage you to take stock, measure whether holding on to them as-is is holding your “balloon” down, and make the right shifts to ensure that you and your team are flying at the optimal altitude for your organization’s health.

About the Author

Joe Sampson

As president and co-founder, Joe is responsible for the development, execution, and success of client and company initiatives. With >20 years of brand and leadership experience, nothing puts a smile on his face like helping clients outperform their goals.

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