The Power Of Walking Away

One summer when I was still young, my family took a weekend and cleaned out a bunch of stuff in our garage and house. We were going to take our cra … uhh … gently used personal belongings to our local flea market. We wanted to bless someone else with them, and we would rather have the money.

One of the things I took with me was my cross-country skis. I used them for quite a few years and had really outgrown them. They had some sentimental value because they were the first skis I had ever used.

In fact, I remember the Christmas morning that I woke up, ran into the living room and saw them and a pair of downhill skis leaning against the wall. Everything inside of me went ballistic when I realized what it meant. Soon, I would be a skier! I couldn’t wait!

After we opened our presents and ate breakfast, we took our cross-country skis over to one of the areas where they were having a race. We had planned to just ski around and get used to them, but there was a race course set up. Apparently, my puppy dog eyes worked. On my first day of skiing, I was allowed to enter the race.

Believe it or not, I took first place, beating out a kid who had skied for eight years. This started a racing addiction that just hasn’t left. Once again, those skis meant something to me.

So here we were in beautiful downtown Truckee. We set up a little table to hock our wares. One of my mom’s friends was there helping us out when a couple came up. They asked me about the skis. I answered all of their questions and then they asked the price. With sadness in my heart, I told them $30. It was an incredible price for trusty skis that helped me win my first battle.

The couple looked them over and seemed really interested. I knew I had sold my skis and was about to watch them walk away with what could only be described as my friends. (Hey, if Toby Keith can have a red cup as a friend, I can have my skis.)

All of a sudden, they looked at me and said, “Eh” and turned to walk away—but not with my skis. And for some crazy reason, desperation welled up inside of me. I yelled out, “Wait …. $20!” They then stopped, looked at me, and turned to walk away again. “OK wait ………. $10!!!” I said.

The came back to the table, quickly gave me $10 and swiftly walked away before I could cry. They knew there is a well-known kid’s law that says you must give the skis back … and let the child keep the $10 if one teardrop falls.

I stood there, shocked at what happened. With my mouth hanging open, I looked up at my mom’s friend and said, “Why did you let me do that? You didn’t say a thing.” To which he replied, “You had to learn.” Those four words seemed like a samurai sword penetrating my stomach. I looked back at him and said, “But I’m a kid!” Apparently that didn’t matter.

I can still remember the sting of that day, especially the part where the couple was able to look at my precious skis, decide that they didn’t want to pay that much, turn and walk away. And then, do it again when I first dropped the price.

I still think taking advantage of a helpless (maybe susceptible is a better word) kid should be against the law or something. But it taught me that being emotionally attached can get you in trouble—whether you’re the buyer or the seller.

Question: What ways have you seen the power of walking away?

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74 thoughts on “The Power Of Walking Away”

  1. Wow. I can’t help but muse how much better off our world would be if all kids learned these types of lessons….
    This topic speaks to living on purpose. Knowing what you want and what you’re willing to give for it. If you haven’t made that determination, whether in career or purchase, the emotional “I want that” can outweigh our goals. When we get too attached to something we give up our power to make rational, principle based decision. This is why mission statements are so important.

  2. Well, Chris, this may be the saddest post you’ve ever written.  But very impactful.  Not often is this topic written from the perspective of the seller.  I’ll go cry now.

  3. I can’t remember where  I heard this, but – if you can’t walk away from the deal, you shouldn’t be doing it. Something like that. Again, don’t remember where I heard it, but it is totally true – and your gut wrenching story drives it home. What an important lesson!  And I agree – there should be age laws around those kinds of lessons – that totally made me laugh out loud. 🙂
     
    My biggest ‘walk away lesson’ was a company we had been working with. We had invested much in setting up the client – over 40 employees were taking classes in two locations. Our monthly invoicing for them was on the rise, and for the first 4 months, everything worked perfectly. Then they started delaying their payments on us. 
     
    First it was a week. Then two weeks. Then three weeks. At the end, they were pushing 90 freakin days. 
     
    We waited way to long to walk out on them. I was too emotionally attached to the deal. Why should we give up when these guys took so long to get set up? 
     
    Because we waited soo long to pull the plug, we ended up crippling ourselves financially.  Still working to repair the damage we incurred. Should have walked after they broke the month barrier. Now, I hope, I’m much wiser – and far more ready to pull those plugs. 

    1. @Aaron Nelson Great comments Aaron! Your post reminded me of the Decision making episodes of the podcast, where Dave talks about setting a deadline for a decision. I think we get so attached to some things, whether a deal, client, or possession that it’s tough to make the tough call. I know I could benefit from setting a decision date with those types of choices in my life!

      1.  @Skropp  @Aaron Totally right Skropp – I would have benefitted from knowing I was being motivated by fear, not by a guiding principal like….HONESTY. My client wasn’t being honest, we don’t do business with you. Period. @ChrisLoCurto Man, I wish I had this info a year ago! 🙂 

        1.  @Aaron Nelson  @Skropp  @Aaron HAHA…I know brother. But look at it this way, your testimony is helping people who are reading this! (Did that make it all go away?)

    2.  @Aaron Nelson My brother has the same issue! It’s infuriating.  He says it’s the way everyone operates, everybody owes money to someone down the line and they pass that on.  The client won’t pay because their clients haven’t paid them and around they go!  I think if people started putting their foot down and walking away, they would stop the nonsense.  Of course, my brother fears that they would not call him back if he demands payment.

      1.  @lilykreitinger So true – you know, I actually read an article in a major business mag which profiled a well known CEO down here – and he proudly said that he does his best to force his suppliers to take 90 day payment terms or more, or they can do business with someone else.  
         
        I don’t think that’s cool. Success is about others, not just looking out for yourself.
         
         

      2.  @lilykreitinger Not calling back? I think the lesson I learned was ….if they are bad payers, why do I want their business in the first place. Sometimes you need to evaluate your clients and weed out the ones who cost you more than they give you in return. Sustainable business is WIN / WIN for all, or no deal. My two cents.

  4. I’ve always prided myself on being able to walk away, and it’s worked perfectly, except this one time:( I was looking to buy a new car, and lo and behold, i made the cardinal mistake of getting attached to a red Subaru Impreza stick shift at a dealer 28 miles from home. The WRX was my dream, but this was the closest I’d come to getting it.
    I was looking at something else on the lot, and was doing pretty well at “discussing options”  as I call bargaining and I was prepared to go on for a couple days or walk away if that’s what it took to get a deal. In the midst of it, a truck pulled out of the lot, and Ispotted the Subaru.  The salesman must have been watching me closely, and definately noticed my eyes pop out. In retrospect, that’s when I should have walked away, I didn’t, couldn’t get a good deal, but I learnt a lesson!.
    I got the car, I could have done better!

    1. @ginasmom I heard one time that in car sales, if someone leaves the lot, they’re VERY unlikely to come back, so salesmen don’t want you leaving. Haha. Shows the power you can hold onto in such a situation by being willing to walk away. My dad always said that when you’re buying something like a car or other big purchase you want to be in the position where the salesman wants you to buy more than you want to buy.
      Ive made the same decisions as you, and kicked myself for it! Haha. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Nice post!  I was working on something similar a few weeks back about the importance of creating a season for our possessions. (Yep, that may sound odd until you read the finished piece.)  I believe our value at any particular time is usually determined by what we attach ourselves to.  And I’ve learned that when I attach myself to things, my value rarely goes up and many times, decreases.  However, when I attach myself to people and ideas, things begin to develop that are so much bigger than my life and the years I’ll spend on earth.  Listening to Mark Victor Hanson speak once, I loved how he shared the metaphor:  “If I have a dollar and you need a dollar, I can share my dollar with you.  But now you have a dollar and I don’t.  However, if I have knowledge you need and share that knowledge, you now possess it and I still possess it.  The knowledge doubled in value while the dollar simply changed ownership.” 

    1.  @Chadrick Black So true. We think about how we see people who are attached to things and think of how bad it is. But we rarely look at ourselves to see the same thing. 
       
      Will your piece be a blog post or book? 

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto
         A blog or a book?  There usually isn’t much of a difference in word count when I attempt to write a blog vs. a book!  HA!  Most writers have a hard time finding the words, I have a hard time finding the brakes.  Or, I guess you could say that I write like you drive; pedal to the metal! 🙂 
         
        But, at the moment, it will be an attempted blog (and try to keep the word count under 700-800.) 
         
        Will you be running the streets of Nashville this weekend in the CMM?   

  6. Attachment is a powerful thing definitely.  My whole life has been “walking away”.  I’ve lived in 19 homes since I was born, so I’ve pretty much learned how to limit the attachment to whatever I can pack in 5 boxes to move to the next home and I can walk away from the rest. Someone told me once: “Sometimes all you have is the memories.”  That gives you the power to let go and also has taught me to treasure things more and really prioritize what I want to “keep”.  Eight years ago I voluntarily walked away from my friends and family, my home and my job to marry the love of my life and move to a foreign country. Starting over with just a suitcase and lots of memories is very humbling.
     
    Attachment gives the other person power over you, whether you’re buying or selling, they will work the deal in their advantage.
     
    Attachment  is evident also with people not wanting to change the way they do things, or the way they run their business.  “We’ve always done it this way.”  It stifles growth.
     
    Walking away gives you wings!

    1. @lilykreitinger Awesome thoughts! Such powerful lessons. I appreciate that while you detached from your entire life, to also attached yourself to your husband. It is the conscious choice to attach that gives the freedom, not just avoiding all attachment period.

    2. @lilykreitinger Attachment stifles growth. Powerful. Great comment, Lily. It’s like you’re running a race with hurdles, but instead of jumping over them, you pick them up and try to run with them…that will never get you anywhere. It only prevents you from moving on.

  7. I see it in the workplace, in those that are attached (by fear) to their current jobs and the financial benefits they provide. So they don’t take risks, they don’t point out areas of improvement, and they don’t rattle the boat to make things better for the fear of retribution by their coworkers, their boss, or the loss of their job. 
     
    I’ve been struggling with that in my own goal to branch out into consulting, starting by freelancing while still working for my current employer. I’ve been hitched to a fear of immediately being fired when I bring up the idea to my boss(es), or not being able to perform the work necessary for potential clients while being employed, but have been gradually pushing in that direction by weighing the alternatives: if I’m fired I can take 99 weeks (!!) of unemployment benefits and my wife and I live on waaay less than we make, so financially it wouldn’t be that bad. If I can’t do the work for a client, the consequences won’t be that bad because I’m still in the practicing stage and am virtually a nobody so it wouldn’t be that embarrassing. The power to walk away takes time and a conscience effort to develop the strength to follow through.
     
    That’s where I’m at and what I’m trying to do. But I also believe it’s far better to be emotionally attached to that dream, than being emotionally attached to the fears in the way of that dream. 
     
     
     
     
     

    1. @Jonathan Henry Absolutely! I don’t think it’s a matter of NOT being attached, rather of beig consciously aware of what you choose to be attached to. And that is where the freedom lies, in making the conscious choice to be attached or not

    2.  @Jonathan Henry  Wow! I love your comment and can totally relate to it.  I have to tell myself that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.  What type of consulting would you like to do?

        1.  @ChrisLoCurto @lilykreitinger Thanks for the encouragement and sharing the info, I do appreciate it! I still have a great deal of thinking to do (high-C and all), but I have set some dates for getting the stuff out of my head and into the real world. 🙂

    3.  @Jonathan Henry I remember distinctly 15 years ago when I was emotionally attached to a J.O.B. – but stepped out into a DREAM – It wasn’t always easy – but looking back, I don’t know what the attachment was or even could have been.  Good luck – and keep dreaming! 

    4.  @Jonathan Henry
       “But I also believe it’s far better to be emotionally attached to that dream, than being emotionally attached to the fears in the way of that dream.”
      Love it! 🙂

  8. Chris, would you have felt better if they had paid the $30? or if they had not bought them and you still owned them? I see no way to ever feel good about cutting loose from something that has emotional ties. Grief, loss, sadness – all a process that cannot be avoided. (Dang it)
     
    It helps me to cut loose of things when I remember this: “Stuff is the junk you keep; junk is the stuff you get rid of”.
     
    Sometimes it still hurts, but the pain lasts a shorter time.

    1.  @cabinart I think the problem was, dropping the price to $10 was like salt in the wound. Eventually I would’ve gotten rid of them, but it would have been less painful. 🙂

      1. @ChrisLoCurto @cabinart Was it more painful because you felt like the price they paid was evidence that they didn’t value them as you did? When you have emotional ties, you like to think that the next owner will feel the same way about the object as you do, and therefore treat it just as well ( case in point, dog ad that says “free to GOOD home…they only want the animal going to a place where it’s loved like they love it)

  9. Over the past 6 or 7 years, especially since being a practicing “MTMMO” member, we have learned that most of what we have is just “stuff”.  Stuff we can live without.  And should.  
    We have sold most of what we have collected over the years.  Although it was the best thing for us financially, many of those ‘yard sale’ items cut deeply within my psyche to part with, similar to your skis, Chris.
     
    ~Custom made bar stools, the fabric matching my pool table cover. Purchased for $235 a piece, 3 in total.  Sold all three for $150.  
    Do I have to even mention leaving the bar and pool table in the home I sold?
     
    ~An autographed Paul O’ Neil photo of him tipping his hat and crying in his final game as the crowd chanted his name.  Paid $400 and sold for $100.  (The buyer pulled up to my yard sale, never getting out of the car, told his wife to give me the money.  She gaffed and said, “Are you crazy?”.  He and I looked at each other and smiled, and I said, “No, I am!”
     
    The only remaining sentimental keepsake I still have is an autographed ‘The Cure’ t-shirt, box framed-and-treated (think Hard Rock Cafe), signed by the entire band.
    It’s still sitting up in a closet, boxed and wrapped.  It’s not nearly worth anything I even paid to have framed, and I will probably send it to my single buddy in NYC. (What wife would let that thing decorate their home, anyway, right?)   But I still can’t bring myself to ship it out to him.   Why?
     
    It’s funny how powerful “stuff” can be in our lives.  Often, it’s not just the financial loss we avoid, it’s the emotional one.
     

    1.  @skottydog I like what you have to say here man. Stuff can own us if we are not careful. Hmm. I wonder what things I’ve got that I should be kicking out of my life. Thinking…..

      1.  @Aaron Nelson In reality, it should be anything you wouldn’t rush back into your burning home to save.  That may be excessive, but it’s certainly an instantaneous checklist for what matters!

    2.  @skottydog Scott! I love this!!  Did I mention that I married a chronic pack-rat from a pack-rat family and the last time we moved we hauled (or the moving company did) 50,000 lbs of “priceless” items??   We would make thousands on a garage sale.  Emotional attachment is VERY powerful.   I personally think your The Cure t-shirt would look cool in a family-rec room area.  Very ‘Extreme Makover’ 🙂

        1.  @skottydog  @lilykreitinger What’s crazy is, you could probably wear it, wash it a lot to make it look retro, and then someone would pay big bucks for it. 🙂

    3. @skottydog Great points! I’d say, for me, it’s almost always the emotional loss. I may think its financial sometimes, but it really does boil down to the memories it brings back etc.

    4.  @skottydog
       “…most of what we have is just ‘stuff’.  Stuff we can live without.  And should.”
      My husband and I have learned that lesson over and over again on the various mission trips we participated in. It really hits you in the face when you see children living in sewage with nothing. And you begin thinking about all that stuff you have at home that you use…um…maybe once a year….?
      Though, we still have a dilemma concerning a bunch of stuff. Over the last couple years it seems like everyone in our families have moved, and they dumped all the heirlooms on us….what to do?
      🙂

  10. “Being emotionally attached can get you in trouble—whether you’re the buyer or the seller” — I can relate to this perssonally Chris. That’s why Emotional Quotient is considered as an essential trait for new recruits in several organizations.

  11. WHOA – struck a nerve with me as the ultimate pack-rat – and saving something from almost every era of my life, my children’s lives, now the grandchildren….hmmmmm.  As I am remodeling my upstairs bedroom – I am suddenly struck that I am tied to the wallpaper!  Yes, the wallpaper!  It is outdated, needs to be stripped, and the walls redone ….BUT it was my youngest daughter’s room for 12 years – and she is now a young mother.  It seemed so sad.  I did get over it – and just walked away as the last shreds were pulled off the wall.  
     
    It is pecular what we can become attached to!

  12. I almost have the opposite problem…
    I find it easy to give away/get rid of stuff, only to later realize maybe I shouldn’t have.
    I will need to buy something, or really want something I see in the store, and walk away. I will go back to that same store and item three more times. And three more times walk away. When I finally convince myself to buy, they no longer have it. Go figure 🙂
    Sometimes I drive my husband nuts. For the exact opposite reason some women drive their husbands nuts by buying and buying.
    Maybe there are support groups for people out there like me 😉

  13. Democrats seem to cling to power for all it’s worth. They refuse to walk away even after their terms are over. The media of course makes it easy for them to stick around. Could you imagine the reaction if George Bush had a meeting with current law makers on pending bills as Bill Clinton is doing today?

  14. I remember seeing a bunch of public-service ads that say that if you crash into power lines, don’t walk or run from the car, but jump from the car, land on both feet and hop away. I don’t understand how this protects you from electrical current..

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