There is a particularly inspiring passage in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done:
“In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact…Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your e-mail, your staff, your projects, your unread magazines, your thoughts about what you need to do, your children, or your boss will lead to less effective results than you’d like. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.” – David Allen
What a great idea to aspire to. The ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of life are both physically and emotionally draining, and in the end, they sap your energy and leave you feeling less capable of handling the issues on your plate. Now imagine if you could handle things that come along on an even keel. Like water.
All of this is easier said than done. I have spent much of my life being an inward-exploder. When ‘things’ happen, my home life gets complicated, my work life gets stressful, and everything that seemed normal yesterday is way too much to handle today.
So every day, I strive to be more like water. Imagine…If we could all learn to have a ‘mind like water’, think of how much calmer our personal lives and professional lives would be. Think of how much more energy we could devote to what really matters. And think of how happy and productive we could all be.