I was listening to a lecture that Marc Lesser gave at a Google Conference in July 2007 and he quoted a passage from the ancient document of the Tao Te Ching:
“The wise person acts without doing anything extra. Things arise and she is appreciative. Things disappear and she pays careful attention. She has great fulfillment but possesses nothing. She acts without false expectations. When the work is done, she is joyful and content. That is why it lasts forever.”
Through his corporate coaching experience at places like Google and other large corporations, Marc has noticed that most successful businesses operate with high and honest expectations, they strive to accomplish things without there being a lot of extra work and extra activity.
In that lecture from 2007, Marc talked about The Power of Positive Priming. (Malcolm Gladwell brings this up in his book Blink. Tony Robbins also uses and talks about this, as an exercise he does each day, "priming his day".)
So What is Priming?
First let’s talk about Our words … and how they influence Our experience.
For example words like Busy, Hectic, Fine, Okay or actions like a sigh, an eye rolling, a huff and puff, etc.
All these interact with our psyche and they start to determine our state of being.
So when you are asked “How are you?”And you answer FINE… what does that actually mean?
Well it can mean all of those things… and so you have a “Fine”day... But how often do we take the time to stop the doing and actually think “How am I, really…”
We live in a world, a society that “rewards” doing and busy-ness and we look down upon being, hanging out, relaxing, retreating and chillin’.
But in the state of doing, we lose something...We lose the opportunity for creativity.
Think about when you had your last creative idea or inspiration…
When did it come to you? Where were you? What were you doing? How were you being?
It’s safe to assume that by doing less, we accomplish more from the perspective of creativity, health and an overall wellbeing, which results in “better results”, right action, and more effective “doing”…
“Retreat to get ahead…”
Marc Lesser talks about the importance of taking time to slow down.
What this means, in a nutshell, is consciously taking time to appreciate just being alive, some call it meditation but really it can be just a simple 5 minutes to do nothing, say nothing, watch nothing, and to simply close your eyes, fill your heart and mind with gratitude, notice your breath and allow yourself to be filled with the joy of simply being alive.
Meditation has been scientifically proven (and spiritually known for centuries) to relax the nervous system, which allows for healing to occur and subsequently for a calmer experience in your day to day life.
Taking time to appreciate your breath that without we would not be living, is such a marvelous gift to give to yourself, each day, and it’s free and can be done anytime, anywhere.
So the next time you are sitting in traffic, waiting at the doctors office, walking to lunch, just take a moment to notice your breath, and say “Thank you for giving me the ability to live and experience the fullness of today.”
Try it out... how about right NOW , this is as good a time as any...
Close your eyes, take a couple slow deep breaths, start to calm your body, and notice your physical state relaxing, and then just simply say , "Thank you".
Since you are the only one that ultimately has control of your thoughts and where your energy goes, it is up to you to make the time for yourself, to notice how you are in this moment and to redirect your energy to be of assistance to you, and not hold you back.
Marc goes on to talk about the importance of taking time on Retreat… this is different than going on a vacation. Vacations are usually so much about DOING, but a Retreat is about BEING. This is an intentional opportunity to slow down, go inward and retreat into a place of reflection, being and peace.
The Jewish tradition of the Sabbath is a wonderful tradition of retreat... from Friday - Sunday many jewish family, intentionally, are off technology, they walk instead of drive, and they take the time to be in rest, to take time to BE.
Try this out one day this weekend … Set up some rules and guidelines for yourself that will give you the complete experience of Being. For example, maybe you make the rule that you do not spend money and you do not get in the car, or take it one step further and add no technology for the entire day.
What would you do?
For me, this elicits excitement and creativity… But for you it may bring up fear and resentment. But whatever comes up for you, here is my invitation to you: that no matter what comes forward, I dare you to try it… just for a day, be curious.
Be Curious and Practice Investigating Reality
The practice Investigating reality, according to Marc, is simply the process of taking time to ask yourself “What am I REALLY doing?"... What business are you really in?
For example, if you are in a leadership role for let’s say an engineering team, you might not get that your job is not really about writing code, but rather it’s about inspiring people, mentoring, guiding and listening. Or maybe your main job may be team building, etc.
Just asking this basic question of what am I really doing? can be very useful.
Here is my invitation to you:
Thinking about your position at work or your role in your family, what is your job and what are you really doing? See if you can get to the deeper meaning of your contribution.
How does investigating your reality and priming relate to one another?
Take some time to think about and notice what kind of priming you do to set up your day?
At the start of your day, what intention do you set and if you don’t set an intention, I recommend getting into the practice of doing so, take 3 minutes and prime your day…
Most of us do not get up and say “Today is going to be a terrible day and all terrible things are going to happen to me today and it’s going to be the worst day of my life! I am going to show up angry, sad, and defeated.”
However, our habits often indicate or dictate how our day goes.
Equally, we also probably don’t get up and say “Today is going to be a day filled with opportunity, to learn, connect, and grow. Today I will show up in my healthy self, with gratitude and joy. I will be present to my feelings and be the witness to how I respond to life. Today I will do the best I can and appreciate just being alive”.
Being present to our patterns and our behaviors, setting intentions for the day and starting with gratitude can significantly change the outlook we have, influences the interactions we have and overall contribute to the tone we have set for the day , in a positive light.
Is your intention for your day for it to be hectic and busy or is your intention for your day for it to be productive and graceful?
Who says that accomplishing anything has to be difficult, burdensome, upsetting or hard?
You do, by the outlook you have set, by the words you chose to use as it relates to the tasks at hand and by the priming you do.
So how do we shift the lens and set a positive perspective?
This is where mindfulness practice happens, the practice of being aware and paying attention not to your surrounding or even to what other people are doing or saying but actually and primarily, focusing the attention on YOU and how you are showing up.
How are you showing today?
“Your own presence will have a tremendous effect on what you accomplish”- Marc Lesser