In between expectation and reality… is grief

I’ve been thinking a lot about leverage lately

Why does leverage matter? Because it is the thing that most determines which source of power will win in a given scenario.

Power can be measured by its works. And those works are not entirely physical. There is of course, willpower. And we all would like to have a little more of that.

We don’t do enough thinking about leverage though. And it’s funny, because just like in the physical world, our ability to maximize our power is largely based on how much we focus on leverage. The human race has created an arsenal of tools to leverage the power of things to produce physical wonders, but we don’t often think about how we could create leverage in our personal lives.

I’ve been thinking about leverage lately for two reasons.

1) I’m a martial artist, and realizing the intended force from any move you learn is entirely based on leverage, which is achieved by placing your body in a very particular position respective to the object (another human, a wooden block, a brick etc.) that you are trying to exert your power on. Great leverage = great power. Poor leverage = injury (as is evident by my strained back muscle I got in boxing class two weeks ago from bad form on an uppercut).

2) I’m a businessman and I do deals. Deals are all about leverage. Using leverage doesn’t always have to be heavy handed (although the old school folks tend to operate that way), but it’s always present.

I’ve been thinking about what other applications there are for leverage, and as I think about how I’ve encountered leverage in business deals lately, it’s largely been a threat. A threat to not do the deal and as a result cause some harm to me.

But… this form of leverage is only real if I buy into the threat. Why would I buy into the threat? Because it threatens an expectation that I have or greatly hope for. For example, I expect that when this deal goes through, my net worth will change positively. Or perhaps the expectation is not directly related to the deal, but the person is threatening to impact some other thing I hope to realize with positive expectations.

Then the question becomes… does this person really have the ability to control the outcomes I hope and dream for?

In very rare occasions the answer is yes. And that sucks.

But most of the time, the answer is no.


The answer is you need to rethink how that expected outcome will be achieved.

This has application in every relationship we have, including the one we have with ourselves. How have we given leverage to someone else, or to a less than ideal part of ourselves, because we cling to an expected outcome. And why are these expected outcomes so damn hard to let go of?

It’s because the emotion that’s triggered when we realize an expected outcome will not happen the way we think it will happen, is grief. And who the hell likes to feel grief?

But grief is unavoidable. It’s one of the most certain parts of the human experience. And until we can embrace its rightful place in our lives, our fear of it has leverage over us, and renders us powerless.

There are moments of grief that we all know we will likely experience. The loss of a loved one. The end of a romantic relationship. A failed endeavor. These are all beyond our control.

But what about those things that we can control? Things like:

Speaking your truth to someone even when you know they are unlikely to respond well to it. Here you are letting go of a desire to avoid conflict or control someone’s feelings. In exchange, you get to speak your truth, and that is where you will find real peace and make real progress.
Reclaiming your time and saying no to the things you don’t want to do with it. Here you are letting go of a need to please everyone while making yourself miserable, and establishing to yourself that your time is an asset worth protecting.
Not spending money. The less money you spend, the less money you need. The less money you need, the less other people’s threats around money matter.
There’s a long list of things that we could let go of that give us leverage. And like many things in life, leverage begets leverage. Doing one leverage generating thing builds the capacity to do the next thing. There’s a reason why some people are so confident in doing things their way. They’ve been training their leverage muscles.

This is hard work, but worth it. Good luck this week my friend.

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