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Monday, October 10, 2011

The power to walk away

It’s nearly a super power. Most of us have the ability, but few of us exercise it.

Many of us have been trained to be ready to do this when buying a car. The “best deal” the seller is willing to make is still higher than you really want to go. Walk away. Leave the deal behind. Give up on that sweet set of wheels. Sometimes it is the quickest way to discover that the “best deal” isn’t really. There’ s still room for negotiation. That’ s what most people focus on, the fact that being ready to walk way will sometimes get negotiations going again. We’ve all heard stories of people who’ve done well that way.

You must be willing to accept that you may kill the deal completely by walking away. That really was as low as the person was able or willing to go. What do you do then? Keep walking. You walked away from the deal in the first place because it really wasn’t good enough for you. don’t try and stretch yourself to do a deal that is more than you can afford.

People are most familiar with walking away as a business tactic. Car deals are common usage due to there being some much room to negotiate. There’s the whole with trade in, without trade in deal. Is your old car being assessed as in excellent condition or only good. How much profit is built into the price? How desperate is the seller? You and your neighbor can buy exactly the same car, yet pay vastly different amounts for it. Being able to walk away from a deal is not just for cars. It’s used when buying real estate, furniture, major appliance, or just about any purchase.

The walk away principal can be used for a lot more than buying things. You can walk away from bad relationships, jobs, schools, religions, countries -just about anything.

On a personal level, the first time I dropped out of college I was a “A” level student. One semester was enough to figure out that it wasn’t for me. Once I quite a good part time job where I was making a lot of money.

The thing about walking away and letting go of something is that your life then has room for something that might fit you better. After quitting college, I eventually found a job that I absolutely loved. As for the part time job I quit, it opened up a lot of my days for me to go hiking and fishing. I’m not sure I’d have met my wife if I had kept that job. There are only so many hours in the day.

The Buddhists have a powerful practice known as letting go of attachments. There is immense spiritual freedom in letting go. Attachments can be a trap and a prison. Walking away can be a spiritual experience.

More and more people are walking away from financial commitments that no longer serve. Who hasn’t heard of “jingle mail?” A home owner gives up on making house payments and mails the keys to the bank. The walk away from the mortgage.

I look at the protesters around the world and wonder how many of them have walked away from a system that no longer serves them. How many have let go their attachment to the old order? Quite a few, is my guess. There is an awful lot of power in a person who’s made those decisions in their lives.

I’m not advocating being a quitter. Some people walk away from everything, all the time, for little reason. There’s no power there, just an inability to stick with something through a bad patch. I’ve been married to the same person for over 32 years. I was a firefighter for 17 years until they hauled me out of the fire house on a stretcher. I don’t quite things lightly.

Walking away is best used sparingly, with your eyes open to the consequences, and with a clear head. The ability to assess something, find it wanting, and to let it go, is big medicine. Use your power wisely.



  1. I walked away from a gas station/c store this winter.I had owner it 11 years last 3 barley made wages.if id stayed the last 9 months id be broke.the last 9 months have been a joy.i found the meaning of this saying "Men for the sake of getting
    a living forget to live.
    Margaret Fuller
    I have learned to live. its a wierd feeling like being a kid again.I think you understand.most people will never know the joy it brings

  2. Several years ago we were looking at purchasing a used pickup. The monthly payments started at close to $200 a month after trading in two vehicles and a nice size down payment. Wouldn't take the deal so they started coming down on the payment. When they reached $119 I said we would talk to our credit union before we signed. In the end we got the pickup for $117 a month by being willing to walk away and we had the pickup from 1995 to 2009.

  3. There is a difference in walking away and giving up. You did point out the difference. I don't ever like to give up.

  4. Off the subject:

    Yet relating to a previous subject on tent camping.
    A month ago we set up our hunting camp here in the wilds of central Florida. Over the past weekend we received 11 inches of rain with winds in excess of 60 mph. Figured that everything would be a total loss !
    Happy to report that I just got back from looking at the damage. Absolutely none ! Everything is still standing and the tent is dry inside with all equipment safe.
    Can't say the same for many of the other tent campers set up in the same area.
    Guess 30 yrs. of tent camping experience pays off.
    We set up and leave our camp up for six months every year.

  5. Gary: good for you! Attitude is everything.
    Anon: it works.
    Dizzy; Always good to know the difference.
    Spud: Sometimes, in spite of ourselves, if we live long enough, we learn a thing or two. Nice to see it paid off.

  6. I have walked away several times from things that either suited me no longer, didn't deliver as promised, or were no longer worth pursuing. I'd like to make one more walk, but I need a few people to come along with me...