Posts Tagged ‘doing nothing’

Life is like a traffic jam

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

There are times when despite your very best efforts you just don’t seem to get anywhere.  For reasons beyond your control, you are forced to mark time.  Perhaps customers are not paying you on time, maybe key appointments are cancelled, you can not get access to the resources you need, be that people, credit or technology.  One moment you are motoring down Life’s highway, next you have ground to a halt. 

Like all traffic jams, sometimes they move along quite well and don’t last too long, other times one just find yourself parked on the motorway literally going nowhere and not even knowing what is wrong.  I find that if you can find out what is happening and you know if there is anything you can do, or whether you just have to wait for someone else to do something helps.

Doing nothing goes against our nature, this suggestion that we should surrender, and there is in fact, nothing we can do, so the only area for us to change is our attitude.

At present, despite my very best efforts, I am not getting any sense of forward motion.  I’m not necessarily worried by this but it is a far from comfortable sensation.  The usual metrics for business success no longer apply here, it is a bit like being in the Arctic Circle and having a compass… When you are out walking and you are lost you basically have three options:-

  • Sit down and wait for something to happen that changes your situation
  • Go back and try and retrace your steps (and start again another time?)
  • Press on to the best of your abilities

In business you can cut-back, bring in outside ‘experts’, try something new, or just keeping ‘pluggin’ away.’  If you are a fisherman, once you have tried all your usual tricks, and gone to the best places you know, if you still haven’t caught anything, you have to decide whether to just keep at it, stay home for a few days and wait for the water/weather conditions to change, or go out hunting!

I’m interested to hear whether you have encountered similar situations and if so how you have dealt with them and what the results were…

“What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can’t move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won’t be troubling you much longer.”    Douglas Adams

“Most of the time it was probably real bad being stuck down in a dungeon. But some days, when there was a bad storm outside, you’d look out your little window and think, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not out in that.””    Jack Handy


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Making Hay whilst the sun shines.. [Weirdness Warning!]

Friday, June 26th, 2009

I‘m sure we have all heard this advice but one of things that I have wrestled with over the years is how to interpret this meaningfully in my life and business.  After all, it is no use having the  benefit of aphorisms such as this if we can’t make them work for us. 

My work involves various different facets or phases and some involve talking to clients and doing work, some in marketing and talking to prospective clients, others in admin-type work, and finally being more creative doing thinking, writing and designing. 

For me, I have come to the conclusion that, unless it is really urgent, there is seldom any value in trying to force things and work out-of-phase with my energy and the energy that seems to surround me.  I realise that I am straying into seemingly ‘weird’ territory with statements like this.  However, farmers will always work in accord with the season and the weather, and some such as Rudolf Steiner advocated doing so according to the phase of the moon too. 

Yesterday, was a perfect ‘English’ day for me; walking in the June sunshine along the River Itchen, in the heart of the Hampshire countryside.  This is a truly beautiful river that runs only 2-3’ deep with fast flowing, crystal clear waters full of trout and gently waving weeds.  I can think of no better image for a flow state than this river.  Being there I feel a state of total contentment and peace. 

If I can somehow connect with my internal state and the energy around me and act accordingly hopefully I will do the best I can in that moment and on that day. This approach is, however, somewhat scary when one’s mind is telling you that you really need to do this that or the other thing and waiting is for wusses!  Doing nothing ‘positive’ can feel both lazy and evasive.  Surely I should be doing something useful!

I don’t know if I’m the only one who wrestles with such ‘stuff’ and would be interested to hear your thoughts on this

 “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in our own sunshine”   Henry Ward Beecher


Busy doing NOthing

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Yesterday I was writing about the importance of sometimes allowing yourself to do nothing, and I really did take my own advice. One reader thought that I was advocating never moving into action, which is certainly not the case. It is more like night and day, where you swing from one natural phase to the next and then back again.

So, back to yesterday…. Having finished writing, and having dealt with a very welcome business call that delayed me still further, I looked out of the window and my sunny day had vanished… only to be replaced with grey and wet! None-the-less, I was off to the woods to test out my new satnav1 system and see if I could navigate round some places I really didn’t know. I have mentioned before that I love ‘exploring,’ which for me, is going places I don’t know, even (and sometimes, especially) if they are close to places I do know.

So I took myself off to some woods & heath not too far from here and surrendered myself to the unknown. I was on my own so there were no distractions. During the course of my walk which last about 2.5 hours we had every kind of weather from sun to hail. I was moving at a fair clip so by the end I was pretty tired.

However, and here is the point of my ramble about rambling, all this time I was very active, but on another level, fitting into my ‘nothingness’ mode. I had no work to do, no purpose other than to open myself up to my surroundings and experiences. I won’t be so arrogant as to claim it was a ‘zenlike state’ but it was a very English version of that.

By letting go of the focus control and just allowing ourselves to notice what we notice, by going somewhere new and surrendering control, by being open to getting lost we can find so much. So if you are not sure what to do about something, perhaps you should put Nothing on your menu…

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” Aristotle

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing” Lao Tzu

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself” Zen Proverb


  1. Bing Crosby is busy doing nothing