Bob Lieberman's Blog

Commentary and Tools For Empowering Change

Just Do it! -- NOT!!

I'm reminded today that we're so into doing we don't usually take enough care with being.

I was talking to a business acquaintance last week who had recently seen a presentation of mine. He said the thing that stood out for him was when I described the part of the creative process where you rest. "Rest", he said. "That's it! We don't ever rest." Or words to that effect. The same thing happens frequently when I show my business card to new friends. They turn it over, look at the creative process model on the back and the word "Rest" seems to jump out at them. And they say the same thing, "Rest? When do I get to that?"

Once when I was a technology manager, there was a pivotal moment when I was feeling extremely frustrated with the course of events. Nothing was happening the way I wanted it to. Things were moving too slowly, things I thought needed to happen were being delayed, and I felt helpless. It felt like one of those times when my counterculture friends might have said the universe was telling me to wait. That idea offered me some comfort, but what really got to me this time was the idea's implication - that the wait might be working in my favor. So I decided to believe it and see what happened. 

The first thing that happened was a release of my attention, which then became available for all those other important things I was supposed to be attending to. I became engrossed in them and in the satisfaction (and relief) of disposing of them successfully. When I came up for air after several hours, my original desire was still there but I could now see it in perspective and with a relaxed mind. I realized I could afford to wait for a while longer, and I realized I had alternative courses of action if the waiting didn't improve the situation. What a difference from my earlier foaming, raging frustration. Well maybe that's an exaggeration. I can't help picturing one of those cartoon bulldogs biting a man's leg (and him trying to shake the bulldog free). There are times when tenacity is called for, but it has many forms besides immediate action. In time, all the things I was waiting for did happen, and they happened in their own way without my interference.

Looking back, I concluded that I was made to wait because things not under my control had to happen before what I wanted could happen. The universe seemed to be holding me back so it could catch up with my desires and give me what I wanted.

Now you may find that perspective a little too woo-woo or too spiritual for your taste. But you have to admit that it can be comforting to believe a frustrating delay may actually be beneficial. So next time you feel frustrated at the slow pace of events, or at your inability to overcome an obstacle in a timely fashion, why not welcome the wait and see what happens. 

Which brings me back to the creative process. When progress is just not happening, maybe it's simply time to rest. Rest is an essential element of the creative process. Making the decision to rest frees you from your attachment to your desire for what isn't (aka producing a result), thereby permitting you to accept and become aware of what is. The interplay between what is and what isn't is the pump that powers the creative process. Be careful you don't jam it stuck at one extreme or the other.