K3 | The art of letting go


Years ago I payed a visit to my General Practitioner. My regular GP was not available, so I had to talk to the replacing GP. I entered the office and introduced myself. I thought... hmm he has a familiar face. I explained the issue and we had an intriguing discussion and to my surprise from a scientific angle. I was just about to leave and then it hit me. I said, I am sorry but I have to ask this. Did you study Chemical Technology at the TU/e? He looked surprised and said: “Yes I did! How do you know this?” I replied: “I studied Chemical Technology too and I remember your face.” His next patient had to wait a little while longer to enter his office.

We had a very nice chat. He told me that after his studies at the TU/e he went to work for a well-known company. But he missed something and always had the desire to become a medical doctor. After, if I remember it correctly,  almost a decade at this company, he decided to follow his dream. I was amazed and I admired his decision. Respect!! 

I think most people would agree that this guy took a bold step to let go of his job and pursue his dream, a career in a completely different field. He mastered the art of letting go. On the one hand he let go of part of his identity, of financial security, of his comfort zone and on the other hand he welcomed insecurity, anxiety and the attraction of his dream into his life. He reached his goal and now practices medicine.  

His life will remain to have its ups and downs. But after having experienced that you can land strong onto both feet after such a life changing decision, it gives you confidence to take on challenges up ahead. It builds resilience!  

Having the guts to let go of something that is dear to you, or letting go of something that does not fit into your life anymore is an essential skill of life. It creates new perspectives and opportunities to welcome something completely new into your life. Maybe such a bold change will have a positive impact on other people as well.   

For scientists with new ideas that are far beyond the conventional, the art of letting go is key. The road towards the unknown will most likely be rocky and uncomfortable. It will require lots of self confidence. Our careers - and for that matter our lives - will be filled with moments where you need to decide to hold on or to let go. You will only know if your idea has the expected impact after letting go of one thing and giving your blood, sweat and tears to the new direction. 

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