The Story Economy Blog

So Just . . . Give Up

dandelion blowingI just keep thinking of one word: “release.”


It came to me again during a run this past Sunday. Five miles in and I’m thinking of all the ways in which release moves us forward. From the big, big to the small, small.

And how there is an element of surrender that’s anti-instinctual. Counter-intuitive. Not one of the choices in fight or flight.

A week before that, it had hit me as I was driving downtown to run the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon. I was so, so tired (5 a.m. tired and worn-out tired). I didn’t feel well: sinus infection, cramps, headache. I hadn’t been sleeping. It had been an emotional week and my whole system felt out of whack. And on top of all of that, it started to rain. “Okay,” I said, to no one in particular. “I give up. You win. But I am still running this mother.”

I got my best half-marathon time ever.

 Agents of Release

Recently, I spent a few days learning about a company that is growing like crazy, against odds anyone would have ever bet on. In fact, it doesn’t make any sense at all—except when you see it firsthand, it all makes total sense. I wish I could share more. But for now, I’ll just say that all of the things I’ve been writing about for the past two years, like living your story, starting with why, understanding your people, and creating your brand voice: they embody.

I got the chance to hear story after story from the executives who came to this organization. They were all framed as stories of belief and leaps of faith. But what I really kept hearing over and over again were stories of release. People throwing up their hands and saying, “I mean, okay, I don’t know why I’m drawn to this opportunity, but I’m doing it.”

On one hand, it looks reckless, because there is so little logic. But on the other hand, we are agents of release every day. This is especially true if you are working with other people, pretty much in any capacity, from personal trainer to tax advisor to therapist to brand strategist to parent.

On the practical level, we are constantly working to get clients to release ideas. No, you don’t need that on your web site. No, you can’t take that tax deduction. Yes, you need to let go of that idea for your logo. Yes, you actually have to get on the floor and do pushups to build muscle. You know exactly what I’m talking about, right?

But then there is the ooey-gooey life stuff. It’s bigger and it’s personal, but not different. In fact, it’s really easy to forget that it’s actually the same process when it’s your own mind. I’m talking about the things in your head. The dialogs between you and yourself. The ideas you’ve been carrying around forever or just for a morning that keep you mired in something. Like how sorry I was feeling for myself the morning of that race, until I just released it to the ether.

And then there is the real reason I know that I’m exploring this idea of release, in this particular moment. The real reason the word won’t leave my head. A thing I can barely write about right now: that I now have to see my once-vibrant dad in a nursing home. He is receiving the best care possible—I’m so grateful for that. But I see that Alzheimer’s has spared nothing; nothing is left of who he was. And I just want his body to be released.


Except it’s just not my call.

Some things are your call to release. You’re heading up the conversation. You have the power to release. To throw your hands up, or to guide someone else to do it. What I’m hoping right now is that living life by this philosophy of releasing and being a release-enabler has some impact on the terrible stuff that isn’t my call. That my surrendering puts something into the world that makes other things happen. That letting go of an idea helps someone somewhere release something much bigger. That Aimee Mann is right when she sings, “So just . . . give up.”

It’s really quite kooky. But so was that company. So was how great I felt when I started that race.



  • Ashley

    Posted by Ashley on 05/22/13 3:08pm

    Thanks, Judi. You are beginning to feel like a friend. Maybe that is what we have come to: an age where we don't know each other personally, but we know each other cosmically (?). Good enough. I appreciate your blogging on living your life and consciously creating the brand of life and business you want to lead.
    The idea of releasing while at the same time not giving in - and I have all my circumstances too - is helpful. Hearing someone say it and share it let's me feel not alone.

    • Judi Ketteler

      Posted by Judi Ketteler on 05/22/13 6:20pm

      Ashley, thanks so much for your comment! I think the story economy is very much about cosmic connections!
      And it's interesting, since I wrote about this idea of release last week, I keep seeing it show up. So it's something.
      -- Judi

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