You have to do the work.
I don’t know where these words came from, but they appeared in my meditation, shining in my mind like a glistening Christmas sign.
I’m an introspective and curious person. I triggered by anything that engages my imagination. I hear or see something, and my mind immediately begins making connections and creating stories.
Most of these stories never leave that space. They begin and end within my mind.
Though, I’m well aware that it is only when I transform my thoughts into actions that things really happen.
As Stephen Covey said, “to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.“
To do the work means to manifest my potential.
Maybe, those blinking words emerged to remind me to be more intentional in transforming my thoughts in actions.
As Steven Pressfield wrote in his book “Do the Work”, “We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”
Power + love.
Since I wrote about it last week, this Be The Change card has been coming back almost every morning. This morning again, I shuffled the cards, closed my eyes and picked one.
Power + love.
The card comes with this inspiring quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
For a while now, there have been tensions in my neighbourhood. Someone has stepped over the collective interests to pursue their own benefit. As with many things, they used a legal loophole to achieve their desired outcome. But with that, also came more conflict and tensions.
Looking at the whole situation with the lens that this card, “Power + Love” gives me, I can see that in this situation, the balance is fully tilted towards power.
I have the power to do it, then I do it. If you have the power to stop me, then do it. And so on.
And power, without love, is reckless and abusive.
Love is the missing factor in this equation. But how do I bring love back into the picture?
What does it mean to love more in these circumstances?
These are the questions I’m going to carry with me today.
Power + Love.
My morning writing ritual is made of different elements.
Almost every day, I write in the same place, at the same time and following the same process. This routine helps me get in the inner space I need to write.
This morning, however, my routine got wholly disrupted. I’m away from my writing place, and so far, I did many things but the ones I used to do to start my day.
I was even wondering if I wanted to write or not until I found myself sitting and ready to start. As if my body knew what I really wanted before my mind.
It is the power of practice.
Practice is what transform something you do in who you are. It’s the way through which your behaviours shape your identity.
I witnessed the power of practice yesterday evening. I attended a workshop of Taiko, it’s the Japanese art of drumming and percussions. But it is a lot more than drumming. It’s a practice of the mind and the soul as much as of the body.
Observing the teacher playing the Taiko was a unique experience. He was not doing the movements, he was the movements. Even the smallest gesture infused with all of who he is.
It was as if every muscle of his body knew exactly what to do and how to do it.
Years of deliberate and intentional practice has transformed his doing into his being.
The power of practice.
This is why it’s essential to be present and aware in everything we say and do.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.” — Jim Rohn
Mastery requires practice.
I know that, if there is something on which every master or big achiever agrees is that if you want to get to excellence, you must practice.
I also wrote about it many times.
I think I got the concept, but I also know that knowing what to do and doing what I know is not the same thing.
In this case, the barrier between the knowing and the doing has a name; boredom.
“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.” — James Clear
The more you practice something, the more you get better at it. But also the more tedious and routine it becomes. At the beginning everything is exciting, every time I practice, I learn new things. Improvements are visible, and they motivate me to go on. But sooner or later, the day by day improvements become less evident, routine replaces the excitement, and slowly my interest starts fading away. That’s when I start looking around for some novelty and my journey to mastery crumbles. Even if it is working and I am making progress.
“Men desire novelty to such an extent that those who are doing well wish for a change as much as those who are doing badly.” — Machiavelli
I’d love to say that there is a strategy to avoid that, but so far, I have found nothing but learning to fall in love with boredom.
There is something to learn in everything.
In pain and joy.
In failure and success.
In fear and love.
In friends and foes.
In peace and conflicts.
In the present and in the past.
In my stories and in the stories of others.
Because for the soul, heart, mind and body of a student, everything and everyone is a teacher.
It doesn’t mean that we have to reflect on everything we go through in life to extract a lesson. That would be exhausting.
But we must nurture the learner’s attitude in our mind, heart, body and soul.
Sometimes the learning is manifest, sometimes is subtle, and other times it is apparently invisible.
However, if we keep the learner’s attitude, the learning will manifest itself at some point, in its own way.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I love aphorisms. They carry so much meaning and power in just a few words.
This one from Antoine de Saint-Exupery is probably my favourite one.
I have a tendency to fill up my life. To fall into the collecting mindset.
Once it was with things.
I remember a period in my life when I was going around with my wallet full of old receipts and bills. It was so thick I couldn’t carry it in my pocket. Obviously, for no reason at all. Some of them were so old that they were faded entirely away.
And it was the same with all sorts of stuff.
Until I throw everything away and I started living with just what I need.
What a liberation it has been.
But the collecting mindset is still there. Not as strong as before, but sometimes it shows up. In this case, with ideas and projects. Something less visible but that can quickly fill up life.
This morning I couldn’t find an idea for my writing. The clock was ticking, and I was ready to give up this morning apple. I have so many things to do that I can spend too much time seeking an idea.
I started reading some quotes seeking inspiration.
Then this one by Antoine de Saint-Exupery called me, from the bottom of an email I sent. And I realise that I’ve been filling up my life with ideas an projects and there is little space left to wander there where ideas grow.
Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to what I say yes to.
Awakening creativity is a subtraction process.
I woke up with a heavy head, a stiff neck and a sore shoulder.
I know, not a great start of the day. I’ve tried to follow my usual morning routine, but after a few minutes of stretching, it was clear that training wasn’t an option this morning.
So, I went back to bed, and I tried to relax my body.
This little experience of mine made me think of the importance of resting and recovery. Something we usually look at as a waste of time or an obstacle to our productivity.
It is so easy to overdue.
In my case, the combination of a few factors makes things worst.
I am self-employed, so I can work whenever I want. There are no external boundaries separating working time from the rest.
I do something I love.
I can’t remember who said, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
Somehow it’s true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to rest and recover.
Athletes are very well aware of this. Recovery is not a pause from training, it is an integral part of it.
It should be the same in any work we do. We should have recovery phases by design.
I’m not sure it will avoid waking up with a stiff neck, but I’m definitely going to put more attention on planning my recovery moments. So they won’t feel a waste of time but productivity boosters.
“What is there to learn for me from this?”
Where “this” can be any experiences or situations, either positive or negative.
This is an important question that I’ve learned to ask myself as much as I can. In particular, when I go through something adverse or painful.
“What is there to learn for me from this?”
When I find something, even the tiniest lesson, to learn from an experience I live, then that experience becomes meaningful.
I know, it can be damn hard.
However, I always found something to learn from everything that happened in my life. Sometimes, it took me literally years to discover what was my learning. Though, once I had that. Once I had uncovered my own lesson, all the suffering faded away, leaving space for new energy to come in.
“Can we ever know who we really are?”
Lately, I’ve been pondering and writing a lot about identity. About the importance of knowing who I am and defining my actions from my identity to make them more powerful.
Then this morning, I opened the laptop for this little writing exercise of mine. As usual, I started by clearing the space closing the programs and documents I left open yesterday evening. And in one of them, a page with all text that I highlighted on the books I read recently, this question stood out.
“Can we ever know who we really are?”
I mean, I know my name, story, facts, skills and so on. For sure, I have knowledge about myself, but that’s just the surface. Maps, as I wrote a few days ago.
I’m also aware that there are also parts of me that I can’t see. My blind spots. Thanks to my relationships and conversations, I keep shading more light on them, but I don’t know how many are still there.
But even if I could cast away every shadow and illuminate every dark corner, I feel that it won’t be enough. There is more to me, and to everyone that our limited minds can grasp.
That’s what makes this journey of life so fascinating to me; it is infinite.
I had a few experiences so powerful that they cracked the surface of my life. Some were tough and painful, others exciting and blissful.
All of them gave me the possibility to glimpse at my infinite potential opening up slits through the layers I’ve built around my essence.
However, those layers that I’ve built are not rigid and sturdy, like walls. Oh no, instead they are made of thick, viscous and sticky material.
So, creating an opening is not enough. Once the energy that opened the gap is released, those layers immediately begin to close on it. They slowly back to the old and well-known form. And the light gleaming from within begin to fade until it is all gone, and I am back where I started.
This is why what we do after a transformative experience is as vital as the experience itself.
The first days we must focus on integration. Using the strength pouring out from the newly opened gap, we must integrate into our lives what we’ve learned and discovered. We must take the time to reconnect with that energy and expand it from day one.
So the layers won’t go back to the old form, and maybe a crack, even if a tiny one, will remain on the surface.
And crack by crack, gap by gap we will be able to liberate our infinite potential.
Photo by Ben Klea on Unsplash