The Subtle Power of Detachment

Superhuman means to have skills and abilities that are not common to the majority of the population. Early in our shared history, these were warriors who had an uncanny fighting ability who seemed to win every battle. Today, we find this characteristic in athletics at the top of their sport.

What sets apart the ‘human’ and the ‘superhuman’ isn’t some physical or genetic characteristics and its certainly not some radioactive spider that transforms you into Spider-Man. To be superhuman is a capacity that requires commitment, conviction, dedication, practice, faith, endurance, and resilience. You may notice that these aren’t uncommon traits. They are all capacities, meaning that they are available to anyone who seeks to exercise the development of the needed capacity.

A dear friend of mine shared with me a great reminder that echos the characteristics of being superhuman:

In recent months, we’ve covered a few superhuman capacities like adaptation, transformation, grit, and resilience.  Many of these have the flavor of charging ahead and being on the offensive of change. Today, I want to share with you a defensive characteristic to safeguard your heart and pursuits. 


Let’s immediately clear the air. Detachment is not a fancy word for indifference, passivity, or carelessness. In fact, detachment, in its purest sense, supports the connection to positive growth, resilience, integrity, and grace (self and others).

I’ll tell no lie
Detachment is riddled with complexities and paradoxes. For example, the word detach means disconnect yet detachment involves great involvement. The difference is detachment is liberated from the outcome or the paralyzing emotions preventing the pursuit.

Ron W. Rathbun wrote, “True detachment isn’t a separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living.”

It is hard to recognize the benefits of detachment when our lives are going well and full of inspiration. Yet, life as it is has its ups and downs. When we are faced with loss, grief, and failure, it becomes difficult to not associate these paralyzing emotions with ourselves. Yet through the practice of detachment, we can learn to not identify ourselves by our emotions and move from suffering to peace.

Detachment is the act of maximum pursuit of life (and the pressures that arise) AND maximum grace.  

Roughly 37 million people have filed
 for unemployment in the United States as a result of the COVID-19. This means that there are 37 million people in the United States alone who are suffering from the stress and anxiety of losing their jobs and its financial implications. Yet, there is a hidden emotional and mental tole of job loss. For many, jobs aren’t just a means of making a living, they influence how we see ourselvesWe associate ourselves with roles and the skills those roles require. As a result, we begin to question our identity. “Who am I if I am not [job role]?”

Attachment and self-identity are deeply intertwined. We associate ourselves with the things that we hold dear, like our jobs or the status they give us, and emotions that we do not know how to process through. In the case of our jobs, it is the identity that these jobs give us. Detachment here looks like separating our identity from the job we once had. This means that we move to a perspective that does not rely on our job/career alone to give us a feeling of fulfillment, purpose, and meaning in life.

A powerful element of a detachment practice is learning to be objective. 
We see this with the best actors who become deeply involved in their role yet they recognize the role as a separate identity than the one they hold when they are not in character. They become fully immersed in the emotions and mindset of the character while able to be objective and detached from the role.

Like many other things, there isn’t some single achievement point where you obtain your Detachment Mastery Badge. Instead, detachment is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day, exercise of accepting what is and doing our best to pivot our next steps towards doing what we think is right…while not being attached to the outcome.

Here are 7 ways to develop your practice of detachment:

  1. Become an Observer – What would it look like if someone else was experiencing your situation? The goal here is to get an objective view of the situation. Attachment, even the slightest, comes with an emotional charge. Observe how your emotions are shifting and determine what is causing the shift. That may be the very thing that you are attached to. The next step would be to determine how to grow into detachment.
  2. Storytime vs Reality – We can create and resonate a negative narrative in our minds when things are not going our way. We must recognize the story we are telling ourselves and compare it to facts of the situation at hand. Going back to the job example, we might tell ourselves that if we don’t get this next job it is going to ruin our career. The reality is there is no loss here. This future outcome is not today’s truth. Focus on the present.
  3. Embrace uncertainty – Certainty is a fleeting concept the more time we spend on this earth. Embracing uncertainty allows us to be flexible and put emerging challenges into a perspective that allows us not to get caught up in the fright of not-knowing.
  4. Embrace Impermanence – Attachment causes us to be fearful of change. When we come to grips with the constancy of change, then we are better able to practice detachment. For example, the person you knew when you were a child is a different person as an adult. To hold on to the notion of who they were means you are unwilling to accept the impermanence of life.
  5. Change what you speak – What we speak shapes who we are. A subtle change in speech can help support your detachment practice. Here is what I mean. Change from “I need to” to “I want to” or “I have to” to “I get to”.
  6. Pause. Meditate. Take action. (PMT) – We can easily get caught up in the circumstances of life and make reaction decisions. Instead, we have the opportunity to pause to gather our composure, use a meditative practice to get grounded, and then respond with the next best action.
  7. Embrace the Journey – Change takes time and it takes work. You will likely fall into old habits and that’s ok. You are right in line with the rest of the world. But to become superhuman you must embrace the journey and continue to pursue of improvements.

I offer to you these 7 detachment practices to support your growth of self-grace and maximum pursuit of your goals. When we can come to a more mature place of detachment, we gain freedom. In this freedom, we gain peace and in this peace we are able to live life more fully, embracing all of its ups and downs assured in its rich and rewarding experience.

Combating Comfort and Challenge


There is a constant battle between pushing for greatness and seeking the comfort of the status quo. As an achiever, you know that the status quo will simply not do but nor will constantly pursuing the challenge. In this episode, I share how both are important and the 2 characteristics that are essential to every achiever by examining the pursuit of the very first achiever.



Hey, guys. Ralph here. Author of the acclaimed book Deepening Growth: Powerful Lessons in Cultivating Your Personal Transformation and founder of the Plaskett Institute where we help passionate coaches, consultants, and educators strengthen their personal and professional mastery so that they can create transformational impacts.


Look, hey, guys, I know it’s been a minute. I had the flu. One thing I would advise not to get if you can avoid it at all costs. And I’ve really been bogged down working on some projects here so that I can deliver more value to you. 


I want to have a conversation about combating comfort and challenge. In comfort and challenge, we have two things contending with us and it’s our mind and our ego.


Our ego wants to pursue. Our ego wants to do things so that it can get accolades. Our mind, on the other hand, wants even keel, status quo comfort, and we have to battle against it. As an achiever, as someone who’s looking to do more than beyond their reach you’re combating the mind’s desire to be at comfort and your ego’s desire to pursue beyond their aims. And this is something that we have to contend with.


So, we’ve had conversations before about the complexity of life, and how we need to learn how to embrace complexity, not shy away from it, right? If we were to shy away from it, as an achiever, we would say we would avoid comfort at all costs and we will continue with the challenge. But that’s not realistic. What we come to learn as we understand what it means to develop into the fullest capacity of ourselves is full rounded concepts of the human condition. Which means rest and reflection is an absolutely essential key. 


This is one of the aspects of How to Win in 2020 that I delivered in a video earlier last month, in January. Rest and reflection is a critical key to our ability to achieve the pursuits, right? If we continue to pursue, pursue, pursue, without the appropriate intervals of rest and reflection – reflection giving us the capability that we need in order to see how we have done and improve what we will do – we will burn out and likely fail at our pursuits.


The Difference between ‘Or Thinking’ and ‘And Thinking’


We can’t have one or the other. This is ‘Or thinking’. ‘Or thinking’ was illustrated in Jim Collins’ work, “Good to Great.” The difference between ‘Or thinking’ and ‘And thinking’: ‘And thinking’ embraces complexity while ‘Or thinking’ seeks simplicity, but it has no basis of reality in the human condition. What can we do here is, as an achiever, as the one seeking to achieve beyond their arm or their aim? As an achiever, what we need to do is … build in periods of rest and reflection as we pursue the challenge that we’re after.


The Concept of the 1st Achiever:

So what does this mean? 


I’ve had this concept that I call the first achiever. You see, in my mind, there was someone, it might have been no one, but there is someone out there that could be considered the very first achiever. An achiever is defined as someone who achieved beyond their societal or environmental conditions to achieve something greater than they or society would’ve thought possible. 


So, in that condition, there was one person who did it and there was no one before them. Now you’ve got to see where I’m coming from with this concept of the first achiever. Today we have the beautiful ability to see the success path of many achievers in every aspect of life. Be it in parenting, be it in business, be it in sports, and any category that you can think of. There has been someone who has paved the way, and most likely multiple people who have paved the way so that we can see what success looks like, and how to go ahead and obtain the success attributes of an achiever in order to follow that pursuit to achieve our personal aims. So we have this ability in today’s society, but the time of the first achiever, they didn’t have that. They had nothing to go back and reflect upon.


Two foundational success attributes:


All they had was two attributes. Just two attributes. Now they could have had significantly other attributes and characteristics – which I’ve identified elsewhere – but at the bare minimum, there are absolutely two things that are needed to pursue our aims. Two things that are equal across the board for every achiever. 


Thing number one is a vision. “Yeah, Ralph, I know a vision. Everybody has to have a vision…”, but think about it. This is the first achiever.


There is no one who has achieved around them and in their environment is a group of people, society, who wants to keep things at the status quo. They want to keep things at the level of comfort. They don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to rustle any feathers. They don’t want to have any issues with their neighbors. So you have this environment that is seeking for you not to do anything beyond the status quo. This means you’re not getting support from your family, you’re not getting support from your friends, you’re not getting support from anyone.


That makes it that much more difficult. So, to have a vision on where you want to go is absolutely critical in this environment because you don’t have anything else that’s going to be able to support you. The vision supports you on your pursuit. It’s what gets you up in the morning. The vision is a thing that you need in order to continue the fight. Again, remember the conditions and the environment is not conducive for you to achieve something no one has ever achieved before. So to have a vision is clearly needed in order to know where they are going to go. 


Now hear what I said. Have a vision so that you can pursue.


Clarity may not necessarily be there. And often when you have a vision as grand as this one is in the very first achiever, there is no clarity…you just know, “I got to get to the moon,” as an example. How are you going to get there? I have no idea. Let’s start figuring this thing out, is what the conversation holds. 


Clarity comes through practice and experience and going through the rough patches in order to realize the vision. And as you get a better understanding of what this path looks like, is then you get a better clarity on the pursuit of the vision.


So what else is essential to the very first achiever. Okay? Again, remember the conditions of our environment are not conducive to pursue beyond my aim. So what do I need in order to pursue me on my aim: Perseverance. Perseverance would be the second thing that we need in order to move and accomplish beyond our aim. What does that mean?


It’s going to be rough. It’s going to be rough and rugged as they would say. It is going to be difficult. It’s going to be tedious. You’re going to cry, you’re going to doubt yourself. You’re going to experience emotions that you never thought possible because you are pursuing something that no one else has thought possible and therefore… You have to now build up the perseverance within yourself to continue the pursuit. That’s not an easy task and I’m, by no means looking to dilute it by saying you need to have perseverance… And…you need to have perseverance because it’s not an easy road. 


Do not allow the imagery of success that we see out here on social media to be the thing that you determine your success by. I know certainly for me it has been a thing that I had to continue to remind myself of. 


My pursuit is my pursuit. The way that I am looking to achieve is the way that I am looking to achieve. Yes, there are examples of the thing that I am trying to achieve and I have something to gauge myself towards. And my pursuit is my pursuit alone, and I should not measure myself against the pursuit of others. Again, we don’t know the full story. That’s why we don’t ever want to measure ourselves against others. We’ll measure ourselves against our own walk, our own pursuit. 


So those are the two things. Now, again, there are plenty of other characteristics, but these are the two things that are essential, absolutely critical for the achiever: have a vision, and have perseverance. These are the two things that are absolutely essential.


As we looked and we tried to shape the environment that’s situated for all of this. It is essential for us to understand that we need to be able to continue moving forward, build up the motivation, build up the driving force, build up the consuming desire. Be as the first achiever was, and go ahead and say, “Man, regardless of what my environment has given me, regardless of how my environment is supporting me, I have a vision, and I need to do daily build-up of myself so that I can pursue that vision, with perseverance.”


I’m Ralph Plaskett and I’m so excited to be able to share this information with you. Visit me at that’s Ralph R-A-L-P-H plaskett, for more information just like this, and until next week, enjoy the greatness that is life.

6 Must-Know Strategies for Embracing Complexity



Well, welcome to October and for me, welcome to fall allergies. If I sounded a little funky, that’s the reason why.

Hey, listen, I want to be able to talk about complexity. You know, we don’t give enough credence to complexity and our ability to embrace it. This week’s episode is [called] The 6 must-know strategies for embracing complexity. Complexity is something that we tend not to embrace. In fact, we shy away from it. As we grew up, we learn to simplify everything that we possibly can. We look in terms of black and white [without] having an appreciation for the shades of gray that’s in between.

This type of thinking causes us to have a very narrowed view. In fact, there’s a term for this type of thinking and it’s called Either/Or Thinking. With Either/Or Thinking we are constrained with either and or. It’s either this or it is that! It either is or it isn’t! Either black or it’s white!

This thinking has its place and it’s very functional in certain areas. But as we look at the human dynamic and the human experience and the fullness as it is to engage in this world, Either/Or Thinking has its limitations. It’s is too restrictive to deal with all the complexities that we have to hold as human beings. Especially as change agents where we are here to help embrace the transformation and evolution and the development of individuals.

So if Either/Or Thinking is too constrained then what is more embracing?

Before we even go there, let me give you an example of what I mean by Either/Or Thinking. The question becomes, “Which one is more important: inhaling or exhaling?” Now, as much as you want to be able to figure out which one is more important, I don’t care how you slice it, they are both critically important for your survival; for the function of breathing. You need both inhaling and exhaling.

So if you apply Either/Or Thinking here, the result is that you don’t have the opportunity nor the time to think about the question because you would have a limited capacity to be able to either inhale or exhale and not do one or the other. That’s exactly what I mean by either or thinking – it limits our ability to embrace polarities. Inhale and exhale is a polarity.

The options that we have available to us then is Both/And Thinking. If we’re going to look at polarities, then a polarity of Either/Or Thinking is Both/And Thinking. In order to function as openly and embracingly as we can in this human experience [we need Both/Anding Thinking]. It opens us up, it’s more inclusive, it’s more inquisitive, it gives us the ability for further options, options that are not available to us in Either/Or Thinking.

There is a term that the U.S. Army War College came up with called VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. This was a means in the late 1980s to describe the world that has emerged. Certainly, in the 2020s, we have fully embraced such an environment where we have disruptions of technology that’s doing such a number on the world. And in that, we have to be able to embrace and have an appreciation to now embrace complexity as we’ve never done before in our human history.

When, when we were growing up, we learned how to simplify things with Either/Or Thinking, but because we did that, that didn’t cause the complexity to go away. As an example, as an adult male, you have a spouse, you have children, you are a father, you are a role model. You are a husband. You are a professional. You are a change agent. You are a coach. You are an educator. We hold many roles. I can’t simplify myself to be this one thing. Yet, we were taught to simplify ourselves into be one thing…to be determined as one thing. We are able to hold more complexity than we often even realize. And in that complexity, we can now embrace the fullness of who we are. In complexity, we can embrace and have a more open and inclusive understanding of the perspectives of the world around us. See, with Both/And Thinking as well as Either/Or Thinking we have more perspectives that we can hold and in doing so it becomes more of a challenge. We’re moving from a simple view of the world to a more embracing, more complex view of the world.

When we’re in this space, we need to be able to learn how to deal with it. This requires more mature thinking, a more mature process to be able to hold polarities. There are six strategies I want to be able to share with you right now on being able to hold these complexities.

#1: The first one is Surrender the Need for Control. See in Either/Or Thinking we have a clear understanding of the options before us and therefore we have an ability to control. But when you have Both/And Thinking, when you’re able to embrace the complexity, that’s when you don’t have so much of a clear understanding of all the options because the options are infinite and therefore we have to surrender the need for control.

#2: Which brings me to what we need to come to understand is there are Temporary Truths, meaning that in the moment, this thing may be true but in the next moment it may have altered and shifted and what was true no longer is. Now, in the present, is a truth that we hold. This thought [process] embraces development and evolution. So to say that there is only one truth and forever constant means that there is no growth and development in our understanding. You see when we are able to embrace temporary truths, that means that we understand and we have an appreciation for our growth and development and evolution. Knowing that we will change over time.

#3: Next is that we have to Embrace Diversity. Now certainly when [diversity] comes up it is usually around racial diversity and that is also true – we need to embrace diversity – but what I’m also talked talking about is every level of diversity. I’m also talking about diversity of thought, diversity of being, diversity of options.

When we are embracing complexity, we therefore also have to embrace all of the perspectives, all of the options that come with it. You may have heard the common phrase, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” Now, I’m not sure of all of the ways that you can skin a cat, but certainly, this is a description of the multiple roads that you can take in order to get to the same end result.

#4: Trade Assurance for Flexibility. In multiple options, there is less assurance. But in order to embrace in a whole complexity, we need to have a counter to the lack of assurance and the counter to or the polarity of that is flexibility. Flexibility gives us the necessary amount of [room] to move around in the, in the situation, in the circumstances, in an environment to embrace all of the options that are available and figuring out which option is best in the moment that you need to make the decision.

#5: Which brings us to Embracing Systems Thinking. This is quite noticeable in technology: in the past when we were able to look within the small confines of our system/organization/being we were ok. What systems thinking says, is no longer can you look at just your small piece of the pie, but you need to look at the larger part of the entire pie and how this small piece affects the overall.

One of the better examples that I have of this is in a traditional school system in the United States. The United States has these subjects and each of those subjects are taught specific within a silo and there is no integration across the whole. What this means is that if I’m teaching mathematics or science or history, I almost always teach them within those silos. But what if we can then take this, this mathematical thing that we are teaching and we can embrace it across history and science?

When we’re able to integrate across the system we can embrace the whole in order to get a better result and a better understanding and appreciation for how this small part affects the greater whole.

#6: The most powerful strategy is Look As versus Looking At. When we Look As we are putting our feet into the shoes of the other person and we are taking on empathy and having an understanding and appreciation and a perspective from their vantage point.

When we Look At, it is as if we’re looking through a microscope and we are observing from afar. In doing so we’re providing and passing judgments. We have no appreciation for Looking As the individual, as the organization, as the entity, and being able to have an appreciation for understanding and empathy of what they are going through, what is happening.

When we’re able to Look As instead of Looking As, it opens up our ability to handle and appreciate the complexity that’s going on instead of Looking At from a judgment perspective which is only a single vantage point of our own. When we’re able to truly put our feet into the shoes of others and I have an understanding and appreciation for what they’re going through, not only does it give us empathy, but it also opens up our perspective. It gives us more inclusiveness and inclusion and it allows us to ask more questions. And in doing so, learning more.

These are the six strategies for embracing and dealing with complexity. The latter being one of the more important ones I believe that you can embrace and hold today.