Articles Coaching Leadership

The power of surrender

Have you ever heard expression “What you resist persists”? What does this mean exactly?  Have you ever noticed how this shows up in your life?  The contrast with another common expression “keep fighting, never surrender” is an interesting one isn’t it?  Should you resist and fight or is there really power in surrender?

Surrender can mean different things to different people.  For example, some people may hear surrender as giving up.  What would it mean for you to give up?  Does it mean you are resigned to a situation and all of a sudden “good enough” becomes the new “good”?  Or does it mean you need to lay down your weapons and wait on the mercy of your enemy?

This is a bit of a crazy year for me in my life.  I am a director, trainer and coach where I work.  At the same time, I am doing a coaching course which eats up a lot of my spare time as I coach clients, read books, try to keep up with my development plan and do my homework between sessions as well.

In early September, I was tired trying to keep up with all this and the wheels were starting to fall off.  Being someone who likes to power through stuff, I kept fighting and pushing and demanding more of myself just to keep up.  I had to right?  I needed to keep fighting and never surrender… Right?

Have you ever noticed what you feed when you spend all your time and energy fighting and resisting something?  Is it anger?  Is it frustration?  Or is it something else?  Have you noticed your field of vision to you in these same situations?  Can you see all the possibilities available to you or is your resistance limiting the options and solutions you can see?

Last month, I read a book called “Sailing Home” by Norman Fisher.  One of the chapters spoke about how some people react when their lives occur to them as if they are swimming in the ocean and get caught in a riptide.  The book proposed that instead of fighting the riptide you could try to ride it and see what possibilities open up.

So maybe instead of giving up, surrender could be accepting what is going on around you instead of fighting it and the new possibilities to explore that this acceptances creates.  Essentially, when you surrender and accept the current situation for what it is, you may start looking at the same situation with a very different set of eyes.

In my case, surrender allowed me to open up to the possibility of delegating more to my team.  It allowed me to better hear when they were offering me some support.  It allowed me to get through a difficult time by showing myself more compassion and understanding instead of being angry.  It also allowed me to see an opportunity to slow down and take a closer look at myself to observe how I react under a lot of stress.

In the moment, surrender can be very difficult because we are not always aware that we are fighting or resisting something.  Sometimes, we get so caught up in the moment that we feel do not even realize we are fighting something.  When you notice these moments in your life, take the time to stop and ask yourself what you are really fighting or resisting.

How do you do this?  Well, for one thing, instead of feeding the story by fighting, you should look at the facts of the situation.  What is truly happening right now?  Is the situation short-term or long-term?  How is your current behavior affecting the situation you are currently in?  Once you figure this out, ask yourself what it would be like to surrender to the situation.

Do you want to learn something interesting about yourself?  Find a situation in your life that you are currently resisting and fighting…  Take the time to identify the facts of the situation, accept them and let go of your story around it.  Give it a couple of days and take another look at the situation.  What new possibilities can you see?


About the author


Steffan Surdek

I am a leadership development coach, corporate trainer, professional speaker and author. I believe in contributing to a greater cause, making a difference and adding value.

Feel free to reach out, I would love to hear about the leadership challenges in your organization!

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  • Thanks, Stefan, for another masterful essay that all of us can relate to. There was a book written years ago, ‘The Joy of Stress’ asserting that ‘we can’t live life without it.’ Stress is the part that tells us we’re alive and involved. I have a short mantra for when I’m frustrated, “frustration is just a great idea trying to be born.” There’s the boy who saw a room full of manure and thought, “Where’s the pony?” The first step out of the dark is to ‘notice the dark, and accept it.’ A good friend and I, in the middle of a very difficult project, going without sleep for several days, coined the phrase, “Every valley is a mountain,” when we discover what we’re made of. Thanks for this brilliant composition.