Tesh and me went for a walk on the beach the other day. It was full-moon the night before and the tide was unusually low exposing a field of rocks and pebbles at the end of the beach. We continued along, jumping from rock to rock at faster and faster pace. As we got more warmed up and in tune with our bodies we began skipping those rocks faster than I thought would be possible without falling. None of us spoke, just a joyful giggle from time to time. With my attention entirely focused on where my feet would touch and push off next there was no room for me to focus on anything else. There was no fear of what would happen if I missed. No doubt that I can do it. Just thoughtless attention flowing from rock to rock. That’s when I realised that maybe this is the state that lets us achieve great things, things that lay beyond thinking and planning.
This is not to say that planning and thinking ahead hasn’t got a place. However, no-one has ever solved a problem, created a piece of art, built a house or even completed a doctoral thesis solely through thinking. While thought is the important first step of the creative process, once we have made up our mind and determined a course of action, further thinking may not be useful. On the contrary, the constant urge to think it through one more time, to figure things out without doing them, may just be another form of procrastination.
Only when we start doing and give undivided attention to what we doing without reconsidering or doubting if it’s the right thing to do, can we then get into this wonderfully flowing state that makes us forget time and brings joy to whatever we do.
To get into this state, thinking and planning needs to be separated from implementing and executing. Don’t consume information (or thought) and create at the same time. It needs a bit of practice, especially in our thought consumed lives where we seldom have the space to focus without the distraction of new information coming into our conscious field. However, it’s certainly worth practicing, not only because it boosts productivity, but also because everything is more fun when you’re flowing.
Try it out – next time you have a problem to solve or challenge to overcome, think carefully and choose your course of action before you do anything. Then do it with full attention …