Film

Emma Masding

The Strategy of Surrender

An insight into how we're pivoting towards a more purposeful future through our work, clients and our definition of success.

Written by Emma Masding

An Introduction:

My role at Pink Banana Studios is Account Director primarily, supporting the CEO with strategic thinking and direction as well as coaching the team every quarter to support them in their own careers and lives.

I am an avid consumer of books, podcasts and YouTube videos focused on insights on how to live the fullest life available to you. This is an innate part of my personality and I am incredibly proud of how this collection of research and my own experience over the years continues to develop my progressive and heart led way of thinking and living and I’m excited to share with you some of those insights today.

This article brings together how I approach planning, strategy and goal setting in my personal life and increasingly so in my professional life through intuitively and heart led strategic approaches. I am going to share with you some useful strategies I have discovered through my own curiosities outside of Pink Banana life to potentially help readers in a business sense, as well as on a personal level. To be able to best give context to these insights and approaches, I am going to share relevant parts of my personal experience as a case study to best give an understanding of the importance and liberation of the business of surrendering.

In my personal life, I had already undergone a shift from a mind based A-type personality where I was giving more weight to my intelligence and I hadn’t developed much connection to my body or emotions. As I stood in adulthood, my EQ couldn’t keep up with my IQ! My mind chatter automatic response would always be talking rather horribly to myself, with low self esteem, I was living with consistently high cortisol levels that were affecting my physical health, amongst which I experienced panic attacks, anxiety, depression, adult acne and low energy. I gradually reached the deepest depths of my depression perhaps most intensely over 5–8 years in my 20s, but it was really built up from a lifetime of habits. I didn’t value my body or emotions as highly as my strides to achievement and success; relying mainly on my abilities to think my way out of or into any situation.

In this article, I am going to talk candidly about my personal experience shifting from this place of angst to a much lighter, joyful place of surrender and how doing this, continues to allow more that I truly desire to happen in my life. I’ll then go onto discuss the concept of surrender in a business context and how you might also take learnings to apply to your own team or businesses goal setting. As although I have managed to surrender in my personal life, I have a way to go in my professional life and have enjoyed this opportunity to revisit these concepts to apply at a professional level. I have not yet been able to surrender fully in my work, in my relationship to money and this is a topic that I am exploring through this blog series as I work through it. Today I talk about the business of surrender and alternative ways of looking at goal setting. I am also developing a post about the energetic link between survival and money and how we could seek to liberate ourselves from this (working on it!).

The Article:

So here we go; over the past 3 years or so I have become an avid studier and applier of all things to do with spiritual surrender — continually adjusting as I learn or understand this more deeply. This essentially means that I try to pay full attention to my body and emotions when they show up and sit with them to feel them, to understand what they’re teaching me (this YouTube video with Oprah and Caroline Myss is great at talking about this). It is then up to me to see what action needs to be taken if any, or what mindset shift I can adopt or what I can let go of this to move forward lighter, clearer and less in the world of ‘shoulds’ and more in the world of what a ‘hell yes’ would be for me. Oftentimes the results are about being OK with these answers not being that cool, like having a new folder to organise all my paperwork…!

I truly believe that if we really let go, there are limitless possibilities of life, which are far more varied, limitless and exciting than our minds alone could conceive. Instead, I have been learning to work with my mind, but not to rely on it solely. To connect to myself as a greater awareness, knowing that to be healthy, I must pay attention to my mind, body and soul and all 3 must be aligned and nourished for me to laugh and thrive.

I pay attention when I cry, I pay attention when I smile, I pay attention when I get stressed or anxious, I pay attention when I can’t stop laughing. For me, these are all clues to help me live with more peace and amazingly, for more of my deepest desires to come true (Abraham Hicks in Ask and It Is Given talks more about this in terms of the emotional guidance system, for those who are interested (more on this later on).)

2 years ago I found myself living with my parents, without a job and I got there because my body was screaming at me to pay attention and look after itself. In hindsight, I wonder whether I was so stuck in trying to control things or trying to make things be a certain way and I was trying too hard, so I had to stop. I gradually wound down all of my responsibilities to provide me the space for the pause. Knowing that when I was ready, not only opportunities, but opportunities that light me up and were right for me would come. In a loving and relaxing environment, my body was given the space it had been calling out for. I had no plan or knowing what was to come next. I had no idea when I’d work again or what it would be. I had a few things going on that gave me some excitement and purpose, I was a hen for a dear friend, so got into creating all sorts of wonderful things for her Hen-Do and these little moments of purpose and joy helped to bring me back to life (including editing a video… which I’ll come back to later). I also studied myself, my emotions and connected to myself, I took long walks in nature, I connected with neighbours and family, I watched TV shows I loved, I had long baths, I read books, I let myself cry when I got annoyed and noticed how quickly it went away once I let it come. For most of my life prior to this, I would often seek to avoid the pain, focusing on a positive mindset, but when we sit in discomfort, the intensity clears.

The more I let go and surrender to showing up to life and living simply from a place of joy, love and gratitude, trusting that my deepest desires would come true. In the past few years this has resulted in me unexpectedly meeting my life partner, living in a beautiful home, improved relationships with family and friends and other daily moments of joy that I didn’t know were possible. Oh and… a few months into the time with my parents, I went to a Tony Robbins seminar that my friend gifted me, while there I made an intention to learn more about editing. 2 hours later, I check my phone and I have an invitation from an old colleague for the perfect job for me, Account Manager and Strategy at Pink Banana. A few days later, I met James and there it was, the next step had arrived.

I am reminding myself now of how I did and continue to do this in my personal life, to attempt to find clues to adopt this in my professional life. Then, I spent my time connecting to myself and what was within me at a feeling of desire, not my mind’s stories. I started to surrender and with that, life unfolded and my laughter grew louder and more contagious.

I am working to be able to apply these learnings more specifically in my professional life and with the team and as such, this is an article is an exploration of the topic of surrender. In my personal life I know the limitations from operating from my mind alone and have experienced first hand the benefits of letting go. Yet in my professional life, I am still struggling to surrender in the same way; I can feel the habit, the fear of trying to ‘control’, to plan and to know what’s going to happen, more other people are involved now, which heightens the need to be clear on how you work. Whilst, of course we have all felt magnified pressures through Covid-19 disruption to life and business, for me this brought out a heightened an innate fear of survival and attachment once again to a plan, or to think my way into success and ‘safety’. But now — we’re moving forward, with fear in the passenger seat, not the driver’s seat, I’ve found the book Illusion of Money by Kyle Cease, so effective at helping here.

There will always be external distractions that will try to bring you down, but this article is an exploration of the concepts of surrender in life, to deeply and truly connect to what you want and your intentions in your work.

— — — — —

This article started as a way of thinking about strategy, planning and goal setting at work and how we might go about applying this at Pink Banana. So before we get into the 3 concepts I want to highlight, the most important element to have connection and clarity on is what you truly want, as a leader, as a team mate, as an individual. We all must start there, what is the aspiration, what is the intention, what does our soul need right now?! This article is then an exploration of how our minds and bodies can work together to surrender into allowing these to come into our lives.

There are 3 concepts to explore today, all must be utilised together when making decisions, (I suspect that many of us behave this way without realising we are using all 3 elements) — my hope is that by bringing this to your attention the outcomes and life experience will be far more enjoyable, no matter what happens!

1. FEEL; You must really be honest with yourself first and feel what it is you want, as though it’s already happening — feel how you want to feel before, then eventually you get what you want. With this, you still take actions, but you let go of thinking you know when or how they will happen.

2. THINK; Tangible goal setting — be clear, focus on the task at hand and tangible outcomes. This is cognitively led.

3. SURRENDER; To surrender is still to take action, but it is letting go of thinking we have all the answers on what the outcomes, how it will happen or even the activities should be, or even that we know what’s best to happen. Rather the concept here teaches that instead if we can let go of this way of thinking and let life unfold, where you end up will be far more fulfilling than if you’d just adopted point 2. tangible goat setting alone, the most commonly adopted form of strategy.

I’m going to go into more detail on each of these and perhaps it may support you in your own and your businesses decision making and strategic thinking.

  1. FEEL; You must really be honest with yourself first and feel what it is you want, as though it’s already happening

As highlighted, key to any method of decision making or strategy or choice making, is to be as clear as you possibly can about what you want. This will always be evolving, but before getting into the details of the plan (see step 2.) must be a clear focus on how it feels to achieve that outcome, to experience the goal as if it’s already happening. Perhaps you’ve heard this in forms such as ‘the journey is the reward’ or ‘it’s the journey not the destination’. Well in part, what the concept is here, is that we must connect to the feelings of life, the feelings of success, of love, of kindness, feeling proud, rather than only relying on the mind to decide things and create goals such as I must earn £xx to be happy or live here to be happy. What if we could get used to feeling these things now. It’s also easier to see where you may not actually want that thing your mind told you you should want after all. This approach should be really fun and if a goal you have feels forced and doesn’t actually make you feel excited, then it’s OK to realise that’s perhaps not for you.

This concept is not only brilliant for intention setting, but also can be helpful to achieving it also. This concept outlined is linked to the Law of Attraction, which teaches that as humans we are all vibration, our cells are moving all the time and different feelings vibrate in different ways, for a more scientific exploration of this, Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, is a great book teaching about how our cells send signals to each other as our human bodies are very spacious at a cellular level and reliant on vibration for signals on how to function.

So the takeaway here is, the key is to get yourself into the state of feeling good, feeling grateful, feeling love and when you do, more tangible ‘goals’ or experiences that you desire in your life will occur. The Universe Always Has a Plan, by Matt Khan in his teachings outlines that the true things that feel good for you, are in your path, key is essentially being ready for them, feeling them and letting them in.

There are many many resources available related to this teaching and different ways will resonate with others differently, many of you probably do this without even realising! Early teachers were Abraham Hicks through Esther Hicks in books such as Ask and It Is Given I mentioned earlier, or the more popularised The Secret, a collation of real life examples by Rhonda Byrne. While Dr Jose Silva taught from the 1960s through The SilvaMind Method, how we need to focus on the feeling of success everyday to realise it in our lives; feeling good is a habit and lots of the time it goes against the natural mechanism of our intellectual mind.

How to do this in your day to day life is simple in concept and trickier in practice to do well consistently, the concept is that you let go of control of how you get to where you want. This is proving difficult to navigate at Pink Banana Studios, like everyone right now we are facing uncertainty and so a well thought out PLAN and tangible goals would be great, and I will get to that in point 2. But FIRST whether you’re a leader or a colleague, you must be clear on what it is you want from your business and your work.

It takes a fair amount of courage to trust that with The Law of Attraction you become the attractor of these goals and desires into your life.

This teaches questions such as:

  • How does it feel to win a £xxx project?
  • How does it feel to tell the team?
  • How does it feel to work on them with it?
  • How does it feel to spend your resources?
  • How does success feel?

Coaching is becoming more popular to help people connect to their authentic goals, this is simply what they’re doing; aligning you with your heart and intentions. The clearer that is for a leader for example, the easier it is to filter the messaging, belief and mission down to their teams.

2. THINK; Tangible goal setting

Many of us are familiar with this one as it is most commonly taught; simply we set a tangible target e.g. £xxx revenue, xxx social media followers, or £xxx salary and a set time when this should happen by. We’re taught, be specific, be focused; SMART even (SMART is a mnemonic acronym, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound that can be applied to goal setting.).

The SMART method helps with focus, coordination of teams and prioritisation, as well as maintaining motivation that things will be alright and will grow, there is a sense of security created for all involved.

Tony Robbins, a world renowned performance coach takes this one step further as a big proponent of focusing on outcomes first and teaches the RPM (Rapid Planning Method), which highlights that one must focus on the outcomes as a priority to achievement and maintaining focus, and getting what you want.

This traditional goal setting method is very mind focused. The mind is brilliant, it’s here to think, solve problems, retain information — but mainly it is a protector and doesn’t like uncertainty very much. Most of us are familiar with the fight, freeze and flight inheritance we have as humans, The Chimp Paradox book is brilliant at explaining how at times this can hinder us and how we can’t base everything we decide or aspire to on our mind alone. Our mind is limited by its past references and ultimately, not very courageous. With historic or peer influenced data points only, it finds comfort in looking at these targets and difficulty in imagining what else might be possible unless there is evidence.

My sense of things is that these methods have their merits and are brilliant, but leaders must be crystal clear on their intentions and at times willing to pivot on the how things will happen. Same for individuals when setting your professional and personal goals, could we be limiting ourselves by thinking this way only, or thinking that we know and have the answers of what the goals or outcomes should be or the best way there.

  • What if setting these tangible targets is actually limiting the potential by blocking other alternatives?
  • What if we accepted, we really have not much idea or control of timelines really?
  • The big question is, how can we feel secure and safe anyway? Independent of the numbers?

3. SURRENDER; The Surrender Option:

Finally we come to The Surrender option. I have alluded to this a bit in sharing some of my personal experience, the concept of ‘surrender’ was first introduced to me most clearly by the book ‘The Surrender Experiment’ by Michael Singer and more recently I have discovered The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein. This concept is anything but being idle and inactive; it’s simply to liberate yourself from attachment to outcomes, to embrace that you as an individual and company are a small part of a wider whole and be open to the possibility that the goals that you can set by your mind are perhaps too limited.

In business, to surrender you still have a framework (point 2.) and powerful intentions (point 1.) but you are not tied or attached to anything! You are consciously observing life around you, following your heart, your interests, your curiosity and allowing opportunities that show up that feel aligned with that and putting your all into them. Present to what’s happening, one step at a time, acknowledging that you have no way of predicting the outcomes, the destination or the plan, you are open to possibilities and graciously allow them in.

To embrace this, is also to acknowledge that control is an illusion, plans are perhaps even distracting. This is perhaps quite radical to groupthink which relies on having a plan to feel secure, yet I wonder if more people were aware of the possibility and liberation from genuinely surrendering to life, then perhaps coping with the uncertainty we face as a result of Covid-19 might become a bit easier to accept and move forward from.

To reiterate, to surrender is anything but being idle, lazy or taking no action. But it is to acknowledge that we are not in charge of all of the actions that we need to take. We simply need to show up presently for the task at hand, to what is inspiring you in that moment and trust that the momentum created from starting from this place, is far greater than setting your goals cognitively only could do. The Surrender Experiment book I mentioned for example, Michael ended up running a multi million dollar organisation, through no plan of his own.

As I mentioned, I am currently working on how to apply these theories in my professional life, which are working so well in my personal life. I found two articles that I thought explained how they were applying this in their business quite well: The Book That Transformed My Business: The Surrender Experiment and Surrender | A Better Way to Build a Startup.

To Surrender, we let go of things to go a certain way in our lives. We let go of expecting a promotion, a car, a holiday, owning our own house for example and though we might experience these things, we’ll be OK if we don’t. This is where combining elements 1 and 2 come in here, we are honestly connecting to our hearts and what we want, we are aware of some goals, perhaps writing them down, BUT the key here is this is just our best guess at the time. We are aware of the tangible elements from points 1 and 2, but the secret sauce is being OK letting any of those go and living from a simple framework; to focus on feeling brilliant (i.e. grateful and love etc), to follow our curiosities and joy and show up to what is being asked of us in the now.

An example of this for me, as I mentioned earlier, 2 years ago I entered a phase of deep surrender; I was fortunate enough to be able to reduce my responsibilities and focus on steps 1, 2 and 3 all together from a simple baseline. With that, I knew I had a goal 2. To re-enter the workforce, I had various ideas of what this could look like based on size of business, sector, culture, team, what my strengths were and also was connecting to what that would feel like (step 1) — but I didn’t know where it would be, what it would be or when it would start. At the same time, I also was connecting to what interested me and was getting me excited, everyday strengthening my connection to step 1 (How to Discover What You Want, by Teal Swan was really impactful at time time). At the Tony Robbins seminar I mentioned earlier, I made a decision to improve my editing as I was really enjoying doing it for my friend and I also set an intention to ‘create and thrive’. 2 hours later, I check my phone and I have received a LinkedIn message out of the blue to meet Pink Banana. I had prepared my feeling state in approach 1, I had a hunch of some goals (approach 2). And here I was ready to take it on and surrender to the experience, approach 3.

Hopefully this example shows that each approach is relevant, each has its merits in helping you connect to you, but key for step 3 is that we must let go of angst, attachment, stress and clinging to these things, the more ease and allowing we can feel, the quicker and more likely the right things for you will show up more regularly.

I know that this is radical to societal norms, but my hunch is that the more of us that live this way, the bigger smiles we’ll all have. To truly surrender you do not have salary targets, you do not have that many goals at a time, other than taking the next step and trying your absolute best with that, until you’re ready to see what the next one is. Then, actually, what happens is often well beyond what you could’ve dared to imagine. How much are we holding ourselves back by thinking we have all the answers already?

So how can you apply this in your lives?

These 3 concepts each have their own merits and efficacies of course, my sense is that a mix of the 3 is already underway for you perhaps without realising. But what if you were more intentioned in this. What if you instead saw what was happening for you right now as an opportunity to surrender. It might not have been what you expected or planned, but what if that’s OK? Then once you surrender, how can you apply some structure, SMART focus and clarity to be able to communicate that with a team or others. How would it feel to be successful in that task?

I wonder if perhaps we as individuals and companies are at various points between 1 2 and 3. But what if we started with 3 and used 1 and 2 to help us? What if more of us surrendered and trusted?

I wonder what would happen if all of us really committed to being open to practicing step 1 and allowing step 3. Simply focusing on a few things:

  • What is our truest desire and intention in our lives and our work?
  • Who’s asking for our support?
  • How can we help?
  • What is curious and interesting to us right now? How can we surrender to that intrigue?
  • How are we helping our current clients fully?
  • What opportunities feel good, what feel like shoulds?
  • Are we listening? How can we look at what is real right now, where are you offering value and what are you being asked to do? Focus on that, doing that and serving others to the best of your ability. Let what comes next unfold.
  • Are we too attached to our goals and set in our ways that we’re not seeing other opportunities in front of us?
  • Ask a simple question, does what I’m doing and focusing on right now feel good? Or does it feel off somewhere? How can I get back to feeling good, positive and optimistic?
  • How does this goal, intention and desire benefit the greater world, beyond me?

At Pink Banana, we surrendered to the experience of Covid-19, adjusted and have been focusing on how as a team and individuals we move forward, utilising the concepts here. We don’t intend to return to ‘normal’ or what it was like before. We were burned out, we were tired, sure we were busy, but we intend to grow and step forward with more integrity and heart than ever before. How this is showing up for us; we’re spending more time supporting the team to connect to step 1 and 2 for them; where are they at right now, what does success feel like (1) and what possible tangible goals could that be (2).

At a leadership level we’ve been exploring it for ourselves too, the more connected we are to ourselves, the more consistent our communications and decision making as a business, the more authentic our client relationships and the more energy and excitement our team will have in their skill development. Since then, we have hired a new team member Jeremy Michaels to help us move more intentionally that way. We encourage open communication and a focus on wellbeing not just being healthy living and rest, but connection to our souls. We openly invite the team to focus on where they are in their lives and their work. We can’t promise what the financial outcomes will be (step 2.), but we show up fully to opportunities that come our way (step 3) and focus on where we add value to our clients and our industry.

To Conclude:

To some this might be quite a radical approach, but as I mentioned at the beginning for me, since I have focused on how I felt and want to feel in my personal life, and made a daily habit of feeling love, gratitude, joy, rather than living only in my cognitive mind making up what I ‘should’ do and light myself up in all of my interactions as much as I can, dancing around the kitchen, laughing more and more; life has unfolded for me in ways I couldn’t have planned or written as a strategy. I have had times where I was lost in my mind and trying or waiting to ‘figure it all out!’ — to have a strategy, to have a plan. Perhaps I was expecting life to be different to what it was, expecting it to be going to a predefined plan and so it wasn’t ‘good enough’, or I’d forgotten how to feel good in the moment, no matter what that moment was.

I came back to life by letting myself let go of the plan, I focused on approach 1 and how I could feel better, I was connecting to myself, to my heart, to my drawing, my painting, my creativity, my friends and my family, no longer seeking to impress anyone. I paid attention to outdated goals in step 2 and narrowed them down to only a few that I thought were my best guesses right now, I was open to that changing as I learned more. But mainly, I embraced step 3. I simply let myself do what felt good to me, since then, life came knocking on my door and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Only you know what feels good for you. Focus on that, and trust me and YOURSELF. What happens next will be beyond your wildest dreams.

(if you’re interested in this topic or the opinions outlined in this article, then reach out to emma@pinkbananastudios.com who’ll be happy to provide any resources and/ or discuss further.)


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