Why we need to hold on lightly and not tightly

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Twenty Twenty Three is well underway and as I ponder some of the craziness we are facing in the world I am drawn to a lesson that I was fortunate enough to be taught in the early stages of my working years.

The phrase “hold on lightly and not tightly” was first shared with me by a mentor and close friend in the early 2010’s when we were working on a project together. I can distinctly remember the context and where we were having the discussion. My memory of this moment is likely clear, funny how our brain does that, because I was having a disagreement with him and he was pushing me step further into the unknown.

When you first hear this principle, you might think that it’s rather contradictory advice. How can you hold on lightly to something? Surely you should hold on tightly to retain control and ensure that you have a grip on what is happening so that everything doesn’t unravel itself?

The nuance that this principle captures is rather profound as it simultaneous requires you to place your trust in something or someone and requires you to resist the urge of engaging your reactionary instinct of trying to reach out and hold on.

Through holding on lightly, it means that you remain teachable. At a first principles level this means that you engage with an open mindset and you’re willing to explore the thinking that others bring to the table. Giving diversity of thought a front seat and actively engaging with thoughts that challenge mental models you may hold.

On the contrary, if we hold on tightly it often means that we squeeze the life out or something, or smoother the energy before it even has a chance to show itself. Retaining a tight grip stifles creativity and imagination.

Recognising that on a regular basis we don’t have all the answers and most of the time we are all working to figure out the best solution. There is no set playbook for the journey we are navigating despite what some self proclaimed prophets might tell you. Things are are a constant work in progress and nothing is ever finished, impermanence is part of what makes us human.

The next time you have a decision to make what might it mean to opt to hold on lightly and see where the path leads? I encourage you to begin your question with “how might we…” and then listen, I mean really listen, to the response from the person you are asking it to. In doing this you are asking people to learn to think for themselves and not simply agree with everything that they consume in the larger media narratives that we all are exposed to in some shape or form.

As we look towards the future, I feel that it is imperative for us to learn to hold on lightly and not tightly. What got us here is not going to get us there. Nothing is ever perfect and nothing will ever be perfect for that matter. We need to create contexts that encourage imagination and foster a responsible relationship with experimentation. By holding on lightly we also allow ourselves to remain teachable, engaging in the act of continuous learning.



A deep thinker, synthesiser & learner. Interested in tech, data, & ownership. Enabling reverse mentorship. Exploring DAOs with Crypto, Culture & Society

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Josh Nuttall

A deep thinker, synthesiser & learner. Interested in tech, data, & ownership. Enabling reverse mentorship. Exploring DAOs with Crypto, Culture & Society