Today I met with a young student who was interested in interviewing me for a documentary.

While breaking the ice, I asked, “So, why are you a journalism major?”

She paused.

“Well, I’ve always wanted to make documentary films and tell stories to the world…,” she began excitedly.

[“Great!” I thought,  “She’ll be wonderf…]

“…but,” she continued, interrupting my thought, “…I’ve realized security is important to me and people keep telling me there’s no money in film-making, so I am thinking about switching to accounting.”

[“%^&*(^^&*())(&^%%,” I thought (to myself, of course).]

This brief encounter reminded me of what can happen when we get sucked into the tangle of others’ expectations for our lives. We can become so weighted down by the words and qualifications of others that we never truly take off.

Gordon Mackenzie, a former leader at Hallmark, in the whimsical, realistic, and inspiring book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace said:

“You have a masterpiece inside you, you know. One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be. If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you.”

To unleash that masterpiece though, we first have to launch. Launch up and away from others’ expectations, stereotypes, and stories of “what’s been done,” “what can be done,” “what should be done,” and what’s “realistic.”

Launch into the atmosphere of “what might be done?” and “who might we become?”

Gordon calls the tangled, mired mess of mundane expectations, stereotypes and inhibitors a giant hairball. The key, he says, is to orbit it, in a new atmosphere.

The first step to orbit is launching and launching begins with letting go.

So this week, try letting go of all of the qualifiers, the naysayers, the maintainers, and the “I-settled-so-you-should-to’ers.”

“What is the biggest obstacle to creativity? Attachment to outcome. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you’re doing and in the process you shut yourself off to other possibilities. Creativity is not just about succeeding. It’s about experimenting and discovering.”