Let Go of the Outcome

by Mary Ann on June 25, 2010

I mentioned in my last blog that I have always tended toward perfection. I have been a fairly driven person. I really like my finger in

Ashley making cupcakes

all the pies and I like things to get done and done right. That has been my method of operation all of my life and it has its upside and its down side, for sure.

In some of my past blogs I have talked about letting go of the outcome. When you are so invested in how a thing turns out it is difficult to teach someone else or allow them to practice for themselves. If how a cookie tastes is the most important element of a baking session with our kids then it will be difficult for you to let a two year old measure the sugar or shortening. You can guarantee that unless you over-help them you won’t have the full cup or you may have an over filled cup. Hence, the cookie may not be the same as if you had made it yourself.Remember that I said that I relearned so many lessons during my daughters wedding. Well this was one of those lessons revisited.

I have been working on a hormone imbalance that isn’t resolved yet. It has made the last 3-4 months fairly difficult. My thinking isn’t as sharp as it usually is and planning and organizing, one of my greatest skills has been down. So thinking through the whole wedding was a daunting task. I have to admit that I didn’t do it as well as I might have a year ago and so we had some rough moments in setting up the reception.

After the sealing ceremony we had a beautiful family luncheon. Then we were all heading over to the reception site to set up. Due to some miscommunication, it was a few hours before my daughters came. So what I had for the first hour at least, was a husband, a couple of sons and a fourteen year old grandson. YIKES!!!!!! What I really needed was my girls; at least that is what I thought.

We had some very exquisite lily balls which needed to be hung in the trees. My oldest son offered to hang them. I knew in my mind just how they needed to be but there were so many things to do and none of my daughters was there so I felt overwhelmed. I realized right in that moment that I had to let go of the outcome and let others do what they could. So I handed my son the boxes of balls, gave him minimal directions and walked away.

We had a very European food presentation and I really wanted my daughter Jodie to set it up. We had done the same at her wedding and I knew that she could do it. But she wasn’t available. My second son offered to do the job. I showed him how to cut the ivy apart, mentioned what food we had and walked away.

I set my fourteen year old grandson to putting the centerpieces together and getting them on the tables. Then I walked away.

As for serving, I had only one person on board, my friend Lisa. I had worked with her in another assignment and I knew that her experience in large events was very small. Gulp. I showed her how to make the punch water, how to put the oriental salad together, gave a few directions about cheese and bread and I walked away.

Much, much later, as I went to the cake table to watch the bride and groom cut cake I saw the lily balls. I was taken back. They weren’t hung as I envisioned, they were so much better. They were perfect. I am not kidding about that, they were so beautifully and artistically hung.

I didn’t get back to the food table until we were right at the end of the evening. WOW!! It looked so wonderful. It was such a great job and looked beautiful.


I didn’t get a close look at the centerpieces until we were actually cleaning them up. It is amazing what a fourteen year old boy can handle!!! Great job Kane.

As for the serving, well we never ran out of punch water, salad, cheese or bread. Lisa was certainly up to the task of getting the job done. She had even enlisted the help of others and had kept everything running smoothly.

I am telling you all this because some of you may think that what I tell you to do as you organize your Closet and begin to use it is something that I am just naturally good at. When I talk about the Five Rules of Engagement maybe you think that I use them well, all the time. I want you to know that what I am asking you to do is still work for me.

It wasn’t easy to walk away. I wanted to make sure that the outcome was exactly what I wanted. But I couldn’t do it all. I wasn’t physically able and I wasn’t mentally able because of my health issue. So I had to walk away. I had to trust others that they could and would do a good job. It was tough!!!

When you are working with your children that is what you have to do. You have to let go of cost, looks, taste, and the shirt they are wearing. When children are learning and practicing new things it can be messy and they make mistakes, ruin stuff and it doesn’t always come out right. However, children are more interested in the process than the outcome. And to tell the truth, what looks good and perfect to them rarely looks that way to us.

So resist the temptation to over-help. When they open The Spark Station and ask “What is this” make a brief comment like, “Oh, I thought someone might be interested in why quicksand sucks people under.” Then mentally walk away. Let them read the directions and do the experiment. Don’t offer to help until they ask. While they are figuring it out engage in a familiar conversation about what you have learned about quicksand, about how you would feel if it was sucking you under, about how you would get out.

At the reception I made it possible for Lisa to gain experience in managing a big event, I helped my grandson have more confidence and feel really involved by letting him take care of the centerpieces. I let my oldest son utilize his creativity in hanging those lily balls. I let my second son do what he does all the time, make magic with food. I forgot to mention that managing restaurants is what he does. When we can let go of the outcome, the necessity of perfection, then we can allow others to stretch and grow – and usually it all comes out well in the end anyway.

Possibly Related Posts:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: