Believe in Your Work; Let Go of The Results

AUTHOR: | POSTED: January 10, 2013 | COMMENTS: 8 Comments
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Carolyn Savage

I am writing this with the hopes that it touches someone’s heart.  

That’s why I do what I do.   If I can make someone laugh;  if I can brighten a day or allow one reader to realize they are not alone in their confusion about this often crazy, sometimes harsh, and usually beautiful world, then this work of mine has value.

Honestly, it’s no different than any other path I’ve chosen for my life.  I taught so I could make a difference in the lives of my students.  I used to tell people that if I profoundly impacted the life of “just one student” than my work had value.  Of course, I wanted to positively impact many more than “just one“.  In fact, there’s a huge part of me that would be more than disappointed if I was some day to learn that I had only truly touched “just one“.

I admit it.  I can be an obsessive overachiever.

When Sean and I decided to write Inconceivable, we threw everything we had into writing the best damn book we could.  Like me, Sean is also a “go-getter”.  In fact, his ambitions make mine look remedial.  We investigated publishers, we interviewed literary agents, we sought out the best collaborating writer we could hire.  The two of us had high expectations for Inconceivable’s success.

Amidst the determination and hard work that we poured into this project, there were worries.  What if no one reads the book?  What if our story, or story telling fell short of our goals.  What if our journey touched no one?

That’s when a wise man, counselor and friend gave me a great piece of advice.

Believe in your work;  Let go of the results.

The first time I heard Kevin Anderson say this to us, I scoffed. It was in the context of a therapy session when I was voicing my anxieties about “L’s” genetic parents.  As I’m sure anyone could imagine, communication between “L’s” mom and I during my pregnancy was strained.  Most of our back-and-forths were happening via email, and as a result, were easily misconstrued.  Add in my fragile emotional state, and  to say that the poor woman could say nothing right would be an epic understatement.  I just so desperately wanted to know that she appreciated what I was doing.  I wanted to be understood and I didn’t feel she was “getting it”.  (Must point out that three and a half years later I can see that her ability to understand me was handicapped by my own inability to understand myself.  She had an impossible task.)

“Believe in your work;  Let go of the results.”

What do you mean let go of the results?  Who the heck does that?”  But after he’d repeated the phrase countless times with regards to many, many aspects of our journey I started to understand it.

Work:  Have a baby that’s not yours and return him to his parents, because it’s who you are.  Results:  His family may be thankful.  He may understand your love for him.  You might be understood.

The results make no difference.  Believe in your work.

Work:  Write a book about persevering through tough stuff, keeping perspective, and strengthening your faith.  Results:  People may read the book.  Some may like it.  Others may not.

The results make no difference.  Believe in your work.

The concept of doing the work and letting go of the results has allowed me to lead a more peace-filled life.  Think about how often we worry about outcomes we truly can’t control.  Dan Zadra said, “Worry is a misuse of your imagination.”  I couldn’t agree more.   The concept of letting go of the results has also caused me to really question my motives when undertaking a project.  Do I plant flowers and beautify my yard because I want the neighbors to notice?  Or is it because my efforts bring me happiness?  Do I write so I’ll get glowing comments about how clever and brilliant I am?  Or is it because my work here brings me peace and clarity?

We live in an increasingly connected world where it seems that people are driven to share.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and blogs are just a few of the venues that I can display my work for the whole world to see.  By believing in my work, and letting go of the results, I’ve come to realize that my work is an extroverted attempt to document my growth that blooms daily.  It’s like a journal with a level of insight that wouldn’t be possible without those that participate.

That begets another question.  Would I do the same if no one read or “liked” my work?

Absolutely.

I’ve realized that I do the work because it causes me to contemplate;  to stop and think about a beautiful moment; to capture a memory illustrating what I believe is truly important in life.  It is the same kind of reward that grows out of dedication to any kind of “calling”.  A nurse blooms from helping the most vulnerable:  A teacher blooms from nurturing the most precious:  An artist blooms by creating beauty.  But patients may not seem appreciative; students may not say thank you; and some may not see the beauty in an artist’s canvas.

It doesn’t matter if Inconceivable makes the best seller list or if I don’t have gaggles of followers.  All of that is nice, but what truly matters is that I am passionate I am about my work.  It’s sacred to me and when something is sacred, the results don’t really matter.

Believe in your work;  Let go of the results.

Child's work

Child’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments on “ Believe in Your Work; Let Go of The Results ”

  • Jessica | January 11th, 2013 10:04 am

    Carolyn,

    I am in the midst of my own battle with infertility. I am a christian girl with a wonderful husband. I know that you probably hear this all of the time but after reading your book and listening to your story, it puts mine into perspective! You and your husband are amazing people with such compassion that It makes my heart swell with pride! While I will never understand what you have gone through, I feel that it is important to validate you! You are wonderful. What you did was the right thing! I personally having never met you want to thank you for doing the right thing. If that were my child you carried, I can’t imagine the gratitude I would be overwhelmed with. You are a huge part of God’s plan and don’t you ever forget how valuable you are to Him! I pray blessings upon you and your family and I can’t imagine the treasures you will have in Heaven…sitting right along side of Landon!

    Mostly I pray for peace for you.

    With Highest regards,

    Jessica Elliott
    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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  • Carolyn Savage | January 12th, 2013 11:13 am

    Oh Jessica…THank you so much. That means a lot to me. I don’t know if you’ve read my book, but I talk a lot about bucking the whole notion of a “divine plan”. I do strongly believe that my path has been traveled with a lot of divine intervention. I know God has played a role in my journey. I’m not sure I’ll understand how, though, in this life.

    The most important thing to me now, is living peacefully. As I continue to blog, because I have to…part of my contract with my publisher, I’ve gone from hating it to making it meaningful to me.

    I realize that if I’d embraced this blog in the beginning(the way my publisher wanted me to) it would probably be more successful, but I kind of like it the way it is. My place to seek clarity.

    Of course, validation is welcome. I desperately needed to know that others understood why I carried Logan and reunited with his rightful parents. Now, almost four years out, I’m writing for another purpose.

    I’m lucky I’ve gotten to this point.

    Thanks again for your very apreciated message. It really means a lot to me!

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  • Nancy | January 11th, 2013 10:25 am

    I needed to hear this. I will be repeating this often to myself.I am the parent of two ‘kids’ one grown, one still at home, needing extra help in life, both in school and socially.Letting go of their achievements (or sometimes lack of tangible achievements ) has been very hard for me.So much of my identity has gone into being a stay at home mom since I left the work force.This will help me immensely. Believe in your work as a parent, do what you can, then let go of the results..very challenging indeed. LOVE your blog!

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  • Carolyn Savage | January 12th, 2013 11:16 am

    Nancy, I couldn’t agree more. When I was a principal I noticed something about our generation of parents. We tend to define ourselves through the actions of our children. I used to say that a lot of parents have lost sight of the fact that kids are not a direct reflection of themselves. They are wholly different people.

    I think that is one of the reasons we see parents compensating for their children’s mistakes in a way that would have never happened a generation ago.

    I for one don’t believe that a grown child’s behavior is a direct reflection of how well he was parented. I’ve seen too many awesome families have one or two kids go “left of center”.

    Anyways, thanks for reaching out. It means a lot to me!

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  • Kathy | January 11th, 2013 2:50 pm

    What a beautiful and inspiring post Carolyn!

    I also admit to being “an obsessive overachiever.”

    For most of my life it has really bothered me when someone didn’t seem to like me or something I did, wrote or performed (I was a dancer most of my childhood and adolescent years). I am finally getting to a place where I am not caring as much what others think of me. But I still struggle with my perceptions at times.

    I love the advice of your therapist and Dan Zadra! I will try to keep in mind when I put myself and my words out there. Of course I would love to think that I am also inspiring some and making a difference in people’s lives, but I appreciate the idea trying to let go of the results and let the work be enough (knowing that I have good intentions while I am doing whatever it is I am doing).

    Thank you Carolyn! For what its worth, I really enjoyed your book, value your friendship and look forward to reading your blog entries. xoxo

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  • Carolyn Savage | January 12th, 2013 11:19 am

    Kathy,

    The moment we “met” I knew we were two peas in a pod. It’s funny how what you write at Bereaved and Blessed speaks to me on such a personal level.

    Thanks, friend.

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  • Kate F. @katefineske | January 11th, 2013 2:57 pm

    Those are wonderful words of wisdom to pass down and to be reminded. The words themself, once known and trusted, can do wonders. The hard part comes with continually remembering to let the results go. I know these words to be true, they just can be so easy to forget… thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    P.S. Loved the photo at the end and how it so appropriately related!

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  • Jessica | January 13th, 2013 1:41 pm

    Oh wow I love this Carolyn and read it exactly when I needed to, I am stuck over writing my next post because I am more worried about writing what other people want to hear vs. what I really want to say. Thank you. I needed this.

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