My client, a CEO who has just sold his company, set aside two days to come to Aspen and do a mini retreat with me. We were going to take this past Tuesday and Wednesday to look at the work we had done over the last couple of years to get to this point, and also to set him up for whatever was next.
I was excited to have this extended time together, and also a bit nervous. While I had some ideas about how to use our time, how to point to the space where things happen, how to look upstream at the source of our creativity, I’m not exactly sure I trusted that things would unfold exactly as they needed to.
Turned out they did. Without me.
My client, who I will call Matt, texted me Monday afternoon. His flight to Denver had been delayed, so he missed the connection to Aspen. He was now going to stay over in Denver and fly to Aspen Tuesday afternoon (instead of Monday evening).
His new flight left on time and I drove to the Aspen airport to pick him up. But the website showed that his flight was more and more delayed. And it had been raining in Aspen all day.
Matt was supposed to land at 2:30. At 3:15 he texted me. He was back in Denver. The cloud cover had been too low to land and they went back to refuel and try again.
At 4:00, they canceled the flight. And Matt decided that rather than come to Aspen for what would now be a day at most (his flight was first thing Thursday), he would return home.
We talked today. And I asked him about his trip.
“What amazed me was all of the suffering going on around me as the situation kept changing. A woman burst into tears. A man was livid and started yelling at the gate agent. But the kids were all doing great—they were playing in the airport, acting like there was nothing wrong. Because there really wasn’t.
“What I saw was that I was perfectly ok. That life was happening differently than I thought, but that it wasn’t really a problem. And that I could just sit and enjoy the time away rather than struggling to change something I had no control over.”
It is entirely possible that my client saw more by going through that experience than he would have had he come to Aspen for two days.
And I saw that when you look in the direction of insight, insights tend to happen. Even if they don’t happen the way you think they might.
When we look toward what is always true, we see that the world is just happening. Our struggles come from the fact the we want it to be different, or that somehow we think we deserve a different experience. When we really see that, we find there’s a lot less to do.
Turns out I didn’t even need to show up for my client to have a massive insight!
What’s possible for you when you let go of what you don’t control?
And how much do you actually control, anyway?