Let Go & Lead
Patricia Harrison President & CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

On Renewing Your Strength (2:34)

MARIL MACDONALD:
So when you think of the concept of Let Go and Lead what, what does that, what does that really mean to you?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
Well, for me it’s very difficult, the word let go, of anything.  I have to be honest.  And the analogy that really resonated with me a long time, I think when I was in high school, it’s an old story that if you put your hand in a jar and it’s like this in a fist.  You can’t hold your hand out.  You have to relax your hand and then you could, you let the let go.  So I understand that you can’t achieve the things you want for your life or, or whatever you’re leading by yourself.  You can’t do every single thing.  You have to have a team, you have to trust them.

But at the same time you can’t indulge yourself and let go with everything.  So the challenge is to figure out the parts that you should let go, the part that you should really care about and, uh, how, how to define the tension, and it may change, uh, from time-to-time.  So you may be very interested in let’s just sa, use an example of a speech going well and you care very deeply where the microphone is or where the chair, and somebody else may say well, that doesn’t matter.  And maybe it doesn’t.  But what you’re communicating is, if it’s worth doing well, it does matter and I’m not going to let go of this minutia.  On another end, though, you can be so bogged down that you never get to your mission.

So I think it’s not something you arrive at and figure out forever, it’s something you work at all the time and I know when I get in trouble it’s because mostly I haven’t let go, that I’m focusing on something that isn’t worthy, except when I am.  So for me it’s the, one of the biggest challenge I have because I care deeply about so many things that, uh, it can get in the way.  It’s a life-long lesson.  That’s about it.

MARIL MACDONALD:
— was, uh, what’s been the most difficult thing for you to let go of?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
Well, it’s all, of course, about control and, uh, letting go of knowing everything 24 hours a day really.  And I’ve become a lot better at it as I’ve moved up a ladder of increased responsibility which may seem ironic because when I first started out in business I didn’t have the confidence to let go, to delegate, and I had to learn my own life lessons as I moved up every single rung.  ….  So what’s the thing I can do, and I can do well, and let go of the rest, and go don’t worry about it.  That’s, that’s pretty much it.