Anyone who has built a business or an organisation knows just how gruelling it can be. Dealing with obstacles and hurdles that are thrown our way can be a challenge and sometimes, those challenges come so quickly, one after another. It can be overwhelming. Building anything to a level of success can take a great deal of intestinal fortitude. It is not easy but we do it. We face those challenges head on, with planning, strategy, determination and grit, we hold on. At all costs, we hold on.
So how do we accept when it is time to let go?
Letting go can include a vast range of situations, from delegating tasks to withdrawing an organisation altogether. As leaders, we need to be able to face the fact that sometimes the best thing we can do is to withdraw.
This is a point I reached recently with ACCV, the charity I founded in Vietnam.
Over the past ten years I have worked tirelessly, with the support of many others, to establish ACCV. I founded ACCV after meeting a young blind man, Quan, who was completely isolated and faced a future without any opportunity or potential. With a son of my own the same age, I struggled to accept Quan’s lot in life. I wanted to make a difference, and so ACCV was born.
Over the years, ACCV had become a very important part of my life, and my business. I was extremely invested in what we were doing and in the young blind people we were privileged to meet. It has been an enormous amount of work, but undoubtedly, a labour of love.
ACCV did make a difference, one I’m very proud of. I developed a number of programs to enhance the lives of the people we supported and to give them access to opportunities they needed to build a life for themselves. Our programs included English language classes, social activities, education, medical care and most recently, a Play and Learn program for visually impaired pre-school children and their parents.
My goal was to empower. As a leader, empowerment is always the goal. It was the vision and purpose of ACCV, and one I proudly shared. I made it clear that ACCV was designed to eventually be run by Vietnamese people, for Vietnamese people. It was not about me. With this vision in mind I made sure that none of the IP carried my name, every piece developed was handed over to the Vietnamese people. It belongs to them.
What began as an endeavour to assist Quan grew into an organisation that assisted more than 350 disadvantaged youths and their families.
At the ten year mark, it was time for me to reflect on where we’d been, and where we were going. With honest reflection, I realised that I had made all the difference that I can, and that we were at a point that the programs I had developed could continue to run without me.
I accepted the fact that it was time for ACCV’s programs to be handed over to their rightful owners. As a business owner, I have worked hard to be able to delegate tasks to others so I am free to work on the strategic leadership of my business. Delegation is not easy, but it is necessary for growth. This decision was the most difficult exercise in letting go and a bittersweet one for sure.
Letting go is not easy by any means but we know that the right path is not always the easy path. As a leader, we need to be able to recognise when our job is done and we need to step aside to let others step up.