Letting Go To Succeed

Everyday I take a break from my work when I get to the point of being tired of what I am doing, and I usually go play basketball. The breaks that I enjoy the most are when I am alone on the court. Uninterrupted. I shoot, shot after shot. I enjoy trying to perfect my shot. I have an inner desire to become gifted. I have come to the point where I know what I need to do to consistently make shots, but I just don’t consistently do what I need to do.

The rim lets me know how I am doing. I love having it’s instant feed back. The loud clang of the rim challenges me to become better, and the soft swish of the net rewards me.

But today, I realized that the rim’s instant feed back is unnecessary.

I realized that I already knew if the shot was off course even before it hits the rim. I know by how I feel during the shot. I know if it is too short, or sailing wide left, and I know if the shot is perfectly on track.

I realized that I was concentrating on the result and not on how I felt during the shot. I was fixed on making my next shot (the destination of the ball), but not on how I should feel during the shot (the journey).

When I let go of my fixation on making shots and instead focused on how I felt during the shots, an amazing thing happened. I made way more shots. Why? I got rid of my self imposed pressure on the result, and became free to follow how I felt during the journey. I didn’t care if I made or missed a shot; I only cared if I was focused on feeling what I knew I should be feeling during the shot.

Our lives are the same way. We want to succeed so badly that we become fixated on succeeding. Our every thought and desire is to succeed in whatever thing it is. Sometimes we want to succeed badly enough that we do things against our conscience and better judgement. You see this happening in our schools. Students want to pass a class without putting in the work, so they turn to cheating, and when they aren’t caught, they continue cheating.

The world has recently seen what this pattern of cheating leads to in the likes of Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford. They wanted to succeed so badly in their financial businesses, that they lied and cheated for decades. They took their new investor’s money and gave it to their old investor’s, pretending that this money came from legitimate investments.

They let their fixation on succeeding rule their actions and look what it brought. It brought devastation to thousands of honest people who invested in their lies. It brought families heartache and devastation.

In the words of Joshua Marcus Manuel, “It hurts to look at yourself in the mirror and hate yourself, look into the mirror and wonder what ever happened to that smile that used to shine so bright. When you look at yourself, you see this version of “you” that your mind has created, someone that has become so distant and cold that nobody wants to be around. Empty eyes. Fragile bones. The only thing you have left are the lies you tell yourself everyday to survive, lies that have become your painful reality, lies that will swallow you whole and crush your insides, lies that have turned you into someone you never wanted to be.”

Let go. Let go of those fixations that are preventing you from living a successful life. The way to success and happiness comes from letting go and following your heart, from being in harmony with yourself.

Look at what this did for Mother Teresa. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor and the sick. She lead 610 missions in 123 countries for people with AIDS, leprosy and other illnesses. She dedicated her life to being in harmony with her conscience; she was her best self.

What things do you need to let go of?

Let go of them.

What things does your heart ache to achieve?

Achieve those things of your heart and live a life of success in harmony and happiness. Remember, “It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.” (Mark Twain) and “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.” (Thomas Carlyle)

About The Author: Matthew is a believer in pushing himself through introspection. He likes to try new things and is entrepreneurial minded. He is the creator of a website where he rhymes about cool gifts. (ohthethingsyoucanbuy)

Don’t Forget to Follow PickTheBrain on Twitter!

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  • danielle

    amazing mathew! you’ll never know how much your words can actually reach the ones who need to let things go. and sometimes it takes the right words for them to know its ok.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      It means a lot to hear that – thank you!

  • Matt Schmoldt

    Danielle it brings me happiness to read your words and know something I wrote was helpful! Thank you for letting me know :)

  • evoka

    It’s the same when shooting with bow and arrow, you know as you release the arrow how good or bad was the shot before it hits the target, you don’t need to look at it to know how was it. But I know we are not used to be aware of our-selfs to find out this way, we are more used to value others people comments or evaluation.

    (thanks to all on pickthebrain)

  • Richard |

    Really nice story metaphor at the start there. I know what you mean too its the same when playing football (soccer). You can just tell when a shot is going in because you feel great about it.

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  • Matt Schmoldt

    @evoka – I agree, we are not used to being aware of ourselves and our feelings – hopefully we start paying attention

    @Richard – thanks!

    @Trent – Selfishness, Anger, Being hurt, Pride

  • Dan Druen

    great thoughts Matt!… I would add that it’s not only the misguided “actions” that are a result of this “fixation”, but also the inactions such as blind loyalty and not paying attention to your environment… these inactions will yield the same results through guilty by association… thanks again for a great article…

    • Matt Schmoldt

      ah Inactions are a great topic – thanks for the comment!

  • Kim self improvement and motivation

    What a powerful article. I could totally relate as I’m often a results-oriented, driven person who stays focus on getting things done no matter what.

    This post reminds me that the best strategy to succeed is to sometimes step back, relax, and then reflect.

    As far as the tie thing goes….I’m impressed. I only wish I could get my sons to wear a tie for one day.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      Thanks Kim! :)

  • Lauren – OfficeArrow

    What an inspiring post, Matt. I have recently found “letting go” to be absolutely life-changing and it is because I let go of a person who I depended way too much on and who did not appreciate me. One thing can be said for letting go – it is not easy. In fact, sometimes it’s the last thing we want to do. But you have to listen to yourself and figure out what’s best for YOU. Thanks for the great post.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      Good for you! Best wishes!

  • jusmica

    Wow…by the time I finished reading the paragraphs about your basketball break, I was taken aback. That was me you’re describing and I never realized it until now, that the reason why you practiced your shots was and is the very same reason why I love going back to that pole again and again and again. The swish of the net is music to my ears, the clang of the rim jerks me out of complacency, glory and self-pride, and brought me back to alerted-state, my body, my senses ready to ‘read’, criticize, reprimand my moves to get better, to do better…. Doing those shots tell me I am driven, I can do better, I can be better although in reality, I don’t play basketball! Doing the shots give me purpose, goal, target and that’s all that matters. I don’t know if I am making any sense here. Just those particular descriptions you have jolted me that I am compelled to write a comment on here (my first!). Thank you for sharing your insights!

    • Matt Schmoldt

      You’re making perfect sense! Thanks for sharing and reading the article :)

  • Dr Paul Dyer

    Nice article! No doubt that one of the greatest challenges we must overcome in order to find joy in life is our own desire to control the outcome of our journey rather than surrender to its leading. Our journey’s outcome is not guaranteed to come in the form we expect, but some kind of benefit will always follow our surrender to the process and the journey. And as you noted, the irony is, we make more shots when we’re not focused on making the shots. Great metaphor for much of life. Thanks for sharing.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      Great comment Dr – Thanks!

  • Matt Lee

    Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the anxiety of the situation that I lose sight of the goal. I guess I have a somewhat opposite problem, and in those times I just relax and think about how I’ll feel when the experience is over. In fact, I was kickboxing the other day and felt like I was going to pass out. I told myself, “Finish Strong” (inspired by Dan Green’s book:, and just powered through the tiredness…and that made all the difference.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Sid Savara

    Hey Matt,

    A great read, and a wonderful reminder. I like the analogy of the basketball shot – that only when we let go of focusing on trying to constantly “succeed” and start focusing on the actual actions we’re taking (and enjoying the moments and the process) will things really start to go our way

    This is something I have often thought about, and definitely struggle with – to keep the two separated, and realzie that I can in some ways affect the outcome: but really, the focus needs to be on the moments and what I’m doing.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      Thank you and keep at it!

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  • Jedrzej

    Matt, thanks for this article. I kind of knew that it’s important to focus on the journey rather than destination (all books say that), but your post really convinced me and made me realize that I care more about the activity rather than the result.

    If we focus too much on success, we often forget about all the steps that are necessary achieve our goals and fail.

    • Matt Schmoldt

      Good! Follow your heart!

  • K9 Coach

    Most excellent and inspiring.

    I have spent much of my life being results oriented and for the most part feel like I can success is a normal thing.

    The last 1.5 years, I have been practicing what you describe. Letting go. Doing what I do. Doing it in a way I know is true to myself and true to those I bring it to. It’s much more enjoyable. The word “stress” doesn’t pop up so often.

    And more good stuff seems to come around through it all…
    so go ahead… try “let go”!


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  • Yin Teing

    Truly an insightful article. It’s true, those who aren’t true to themselves consoled themselves everyday by telling themselves lies- and it felt empty.
    Your article remind me of those hard days of striving to achieve my goals- working with friends and colleagues and how those times still put a smile on my face. But at the point, we are so busy aiming for the end line that we forgot to enjoy the journey. Thanks for the insight, Matt… you have managed to effectively verbalise thoughts from the hearts of many.

  • Decal Sticker

    This is a very significant target of gunfire, trying to feel what is all around us, and which I knew was the focus for Letting Go To Succeed.
    Thank you for sharing and Succesful

  • Led Retrofit

    I recently read that in order to grow – as a person, as a business, whatever – first, you have to let go.

  • Matt Schmoldt

    Good comments everyone! Thanks for sharing :)