Let It Go

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “The Bigger Picture” series, written by Charese Fruge on September 15, 2021 

I’ll be honest, this column was originally posted in “Consultant Tips” in early July, but I ended up in the hospital last week having emergency surgery and fell a little behind on my writing. I also discovered how very lucky I was to even get a hospital bed, much less doctor and nurse care during a raging pandemic for something other than Covid. My surgery was one of the more successful of my kind and my healing process is headed quickly in the right direction. These are just reinforcements as to why I think re-posting this topic under “The Bigger Picture” is a good idea right now.

I’m sure we are all sick of hearing the expression “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” but there is something to be said for letting sh*t go. It’s a tough time in the business, morale is down, downsizing continues to impact individuals personally and professionally, and anxiety and depression is at an all-time high among even some of the most talented and successful people in the industry. I speak from experience; this is not an unusual thing. You are not the only one, and seeking therapy, help and guidance is 100% acceptable these days, whether you choose to do it confidentially or openly. But sometimes the best therapy you can do for yourself, is to just let sh*t go.

I have countless memes in my phone sent to me from friends over the last few years with one common theme: “Zero Eff’s.” My favorite… “Searching for Eff’s to give…. nope don’t see any.” And as hard as we try to live by this philosophy, it takes a minute to really grasp the concept. But what you need to know, is that when you do, it really works. I’m not suggesting you just give up and say, “Eff it.” I’m saying, you’ve just got to learn to let go of things you cannot control.

I have been working with a client over the last two years who is extremely talented, but very unhappy in a current position because they were being paid an entry level salary for a high-profile position. No real help or support from management, no compensation for an additional prime time shift which was outperforming the station, and no ability to do endorsements or make extra money without the permission of those who have tenure (ridiculous, right?). This person has been stressed out since the minute we first started having conversations. Contract negotiations have come and gone with the “no increase, take it or leave it” strategy, in the middle of the pandemic when other opportunities and contractual interference left that person in a no-win situation. It was either quit and be unemployed or try to plow through it.

As we worked to try and find a better solution moving forward, we went full court press looking for opportunities knowing that the contract term was coming up again, but because it was too soon, we had to walk away from some opportunities, and be patient, hoping the industry would get better. This person was so stressed out, and I was too, wanting the best for my client. After a while, I stopped hearing from this person on a regular basis, and I noticed on social media that they were starting to have fun, and live a little, and basically, I could tell they had swallowed the pill and let the constant worry go. As it turns out, when the contract date came up again, the client didn’t even approach management. Instead, management reached out to them with a significant offer, significant raise, and long-term commitment. We were both pleasantly surprised. The good news is, that letting sh*t go, gave this person an opportunity to enjoy life a little while not making themselves crazy while waiting on answers (and me too).

Now, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the circumstances of letting things go can be completely different. I can speak from experience about being let go from a situation that I didn’t realize at the time, was the best thing that ever happened to me. Like most in the business, I have a tendency to try “too hard.” That has backfired on more than one occasion for me. At a certain point, you have to be able to realize, you are either being set up for failure, or there is nothing you can do that will make your manager happy, no matter how successful you are or how hard you try. And letting go and taking a leap of faith without knowing the consequences is the best thing you can do for yourself. It will save you from stress, high blood pressure, misery, depression, and anxiety.

I can remember sitting in a room with a manager, and HR, knowing what was about to happen, and preparing my defense, but the minute my boss started talking, I was like, “you know what, Eff it! You’re right, this isn’t working for me either.” Instantly the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders and sadly, I was actually happy to get the hell out. I’ve never let something go that fast in my life, but I was a better, stronger person for it.

The moral of the story is, I know things are difficult in the business right now. The bigger companies continue to streamline and downsize, there’s not much communication, the future is uncertain, the culture is challenging. But you have to keep in mind that there are certain things you cannot control, and you can’t make yourself crazy about it, even if you feel like you are stuck in a no-win situation. Your universe only moves when you move. Okay, enough with the SECRET talk. Bottom line, for your own sanity, stay focused on the future even if you have no idea what it is, and more importantly, learn to let sh*t go.