There’s a famous zen parable about the importance of dropping baggage and letting go.
Two monks were at the banks of a river with a strong current when a young woman asked if they could help her cross. Carrying her would be against their vows. But, without a word, the older monk carried the woman across the river and carried on with his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what happened. A few hours passed before he blurted out – “How could you carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
Simple reminders to reset, like this one, are powerful because we all accumulate baggage on our journeys. We develop preconceptions about some relationships, projects, and ways of approaching problems. These preconceptions erode our ability to approach things with a beginner’s mind and listen for learning. Most importantly, they make it impossible for us to simply “be” in the present moment. The baggage weighs us down and muddles our focus.
Take the time today to think about (or meditate upon) areas of your life that seem spew negativity in your day.
Perhaps it is time to let go and journey lighter.
As you all know, I’ve been going on and on about the idea about the idea of focusing on ‘process’/systems vs. goals for many months now. I’m sure a search for process will provide an inordinate number of hits in the past year. It has definitely been top of mind in my approach to life.
As I reflect on the progress I’ve made in the past 3 years, I realize that, overall, a lot of things have worked well. For example, I’ve learnt to enjoy the journey a lot more instead of simply driving with an eye on the destination. This, in my opinion, has translated to a better quality of work and deeper learning. It has also resulted in more repeatable processes wherein I’ve focused more on the “how” of learning instead of just attempting to get through it. And, finally, I find myself judging my preparation and performance a lot more than the outcome. That’s a big change and means it has definitely been a happier journey as we spend 99% of our time on the process.
But, there is one frontier I still haven’t overcome and this promises to be the toughest of them all. For important results, I find myself having to work very hard to truly let go of the outcome and just focus on the next process instead. I have to keep repeating the ‘you’ve done all you can and thinking about it now is useless’ idea. It still hasn’t worked nearly as well I’d like.
I realize it calls for a certain amount of detachment from outcomes and a fair amount of wisdom to channel energies only on things we control – both of which have, for the most part, eluded me so far. I guess I’m still experiencing very basic human instincts when I experience these feelings of anticipation. However, I also realize that wisdom is often about letting go of some of these instincts and learning to be above them. Perhaps a part of getting there is not doubting that great processes lead to great results. I don’t doubt the idea especially considering I’ve seen plenty of evidence of the truth in it. But, as far as my own experiences go, this has been a relatively new part of my life and I think I do have a pretty high internal burden of proof. So, perhaps, the full unquestioning belief will come in over time as I experience more good results following good processes.
Either way, letting go of results after a good process is likely to be the final frontier in my process quest. Looking forward to making progress. I will keep you posted on (you guessed it) the process – of course. :-)