Force and Flow: What’s the Difference and What Do They Have to do With Persistence?

Photo by Maico Pereira on Unsplash

What is the difference between force and flow; and, what do they have to do with persistence? An important distinction, and question. What do you think? When you think of force, do you think of persistence? You might. Many people do.

However, in this article we will pull force and persistence apart, so we can see how being in the flow is actually more solidly connected to persistence. Ready? Excellent, let’s go.

Force and Resistance

People often confound force as being persistent. Yet, when you think about force, what comes to mind? Is it flexibility and adaptability? Probably not. Yet, we continue to think about persistence as the ability to withstand our environment. Not so.

When you look at those things that are persistent, they are working with the environment, not against it. Important. Imagine a tree sprout that makes its way through a crack in an asphalt blacktop.

Photo by Lucas Myers on Unsplash

That sprout is not resisting its environment, it is using the environment to its advantage. Flexibility and adaptability create persistence, not force.

When we use force, we are resisting that which we are confronted with. The lack of flexibility and adaptability is resistance. And, you may persist for a little while by using force, however, you will not stand the test of time. Persistence over time is not possible when we use force. Why?

Because when we apply force to situations and events, we are basically refusing to accept our current reality. And, when we are in denial about our current reality, we are living in resistance.

What to do?

Flow and Persistence

We can recognize and acknowledge that when we are resisting our environment and current reality, we are being resistant. That is first. Once we are aware, we can shift our focus and attention to accepting our environment and current reality for what it is. It just is. That’s all.

And, you don’t get a demerit for being resistant. We are all, at times, resistant. It is part of being a human being. It’s okay. Really feel that. It is okay. Please remember that. Why?

Because when we get frustrated and upset about being resistant, we will use more force. We will try to force a reality to appear that we want more than the current reality. Happens all the time. Why is this an issue?

Because, when we expound that much energy on resisting, and are forcing, we will typically find that we don’t feel all that well. Maybe we aren’t sleeping well. Or, we are feeling even more frustrated and upset. Not helpful. And, not sustainable. Not over time.

Yet, when we go with the flow, or are flexible and adaptable to our environment and current reality, we can continue to create the reality we want to manifest. And, we can do that with much less mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual effort.

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

We can actually get more out of the reality we are living in, and can be more creative than we can if we continue to resist and use force. Really.

Can you think of a practical example of how these conceptual ideas play out? I’m sure you can. For now, let me give you an example from my life.

I work in education. And, the work I do involves experiential learning. Think the arts, fitness, professional and personal development, and small business development.

Well, we typically offer about 300 in-person classes a term. Since COVID-19, however, we’ve reduced those offerings to 50 remote classes this past spring, and about 80 remote classes this summer. A big difference.

And, we increased the offerings for summer, because I tasked the team with creating more classes, and then even more classes for fall.

However, what I missed, and missed big, was that the community need wasn’t offering more and more classes.

That was the old business model. What was I doing? Inadvertently, I was resisting the current reality. Yep. Not intentionally, not at all.

Often we resist our current reality out of habit, or a deep desire to, as we’ve discussed, create the reality we deeply want – resistance. What happened?

Well, I had a huge insight as I was working through all of the summer classes we were going to have to cancel. What was that insight?

I was actively resisting and trying to force an old way of doing things onto a totally unrelated and new context. That context, the current reality, where the old model doesn’t fit.

Photo by Slidebean on Unsplash

Once I was aware, I began to create plans with the team of focusing on core classes, and using the freed up time to create new ways to engage the community. A big deal. Phew. Was a huge insight.

Alright, so we’ve covered the concepts of force and flow and also looked at a practical example. And now, you might be wondering what you can do to move from force and into the flow?

  • Notice when you are resistant – Don’t judge yourself, or be hard on yourself. It is normal to be resistant at times.
  • When you are aware, you can shift from resistance to acceptance – Inside of this shift, you will create more flexibility and adaptability, as you begin to accept your current reality.
  • And, once you are in acceptance, you can shift to persistence – A state that allows you to be open, flexible, and adaptable in a sustainable way. In the flow. Accepting what comes, and creating from inside of what is there. Right in front of you.

Alright. I’ve written several pieces on persistence this week. I am more present to the need for persistence as all of us, all of humanity, continue to wonder. Wonder about when life will return to some sense of “normalcy.”

I do believe that what we once knew as normal is gone forevermore. When will there be a new normal?

Don’t know. I do know that the need to be flexible, adaptable, and have the ability to create within high-levels of change has never been more needed than today.

Well, then, together we can wait and watch. Notice when we are forcing situations. And, when we notice force, we can shift our attention and focus to acceptance, which is where we will all find the flow.

#change, #covid-19, #creating-reality, #flow, #force, #force-and-flow, #persistence, #persisting-through-change, #resistance, #resistance-to-persistence, #resisting-our-environment, #resisting-reality, #working-with-change

Persistence Without Resistance: Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone

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Photo by Alex Wong

The past two weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon persistence.

What does it take to continue to persist in the things we want and wish to do, when there is so much change happening all around us?

Think COVID-19. So much change, so much unknown.

Upon my reflection, I went back and read a post I wrote some time ago, Persistence without Resistance. It seems very timely, so I am posting it again here now.

What is the difference between conceptual thinking and execution? And, what lives in between the two? Let’s take a look.

A concept is considered an idea, intention, or plan to do something. Though conceptual thinking is needed and necessary, without the execution behind the idea, intention, or plan to do that something, nothing real will exist in the world.

I often think that people do very well at the thinking part of leading a concept or idea into a planning phase, yet often times during the planning and the following execution phases of a project, traction falters, and the project either stalls, or drops completely. Why is this?

I believe it has to do with the myriad of stimuli we find ourselves dealing with every day, combined with the habit of continually firefighting in whatever business we find ourselves in.

Two years ago I went to an all day strategic thinking training, which included people from all spectrum’s of work, from line workers, and administrative and operations personnel to company presidents.

And, what did all of these people, including myself, have in common? Every one of us was spending more time working in the business rather than working on the business.

When you spend more time working in the business, you are reacting, and firefighting, which, in effect, keeps you on track to reproduce the same outputs and outcomes that you’ve already been producing. You are effectively treading water.

If you feel this way about your work right now, you are not alone.

I learned a lot from that strategic thinking training, and one of the most important takeaways was that I was not alone. We are all trying to work on our businesses, or our marriages, or our relationships, yet we continually, without being aware of it, reproduce the same results every day, which keep us stuck in the same place we were yesterday.

To become unstuck, you must not only think, or conceptualize a different future, you must then actively create it. One step, or action, at a time. Otherwise you will continue to get the same results as you’ve always gotten.

And, what did Einstein say about that.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

We cannot attain different results without “getting out of our lane.” We must remove the blinders that keep us in the same lane, and venture out into unknown territory. Uncomfortable, yes.

Yet, these are where the jewels of life reside.

The rare and wondrous moments of growth, are when we stop reproducing the same thing we had yesterday, with the same result, and take a different action, or set of actions, giving us different results.

Conceptual thinking and execution are both needed. When you have both, you have the ability to create new future realities. And, inside these new realities, you have the opportunity to live life in new ways. Ways that were previously unknown and unavailable to you. Regardless of the context.

How do you do this?

First, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable, as the journey to creating new realities through new conceptualizations and corresponding new executable actions will be new territory for you. Because humans feel most comfortable inside their already created patterns or habits, living outside of them is uncomfortable.

If you are prepared for such discomfort, the process is not altogether difficult, and must also include an openness to all that is happening, and all those around you. Meaning that things will happen that get in the way of the actualization of your created concept, or you may forget about it at times.

The most important thing to remember is that because things happen that get in the way does not mean that you cannot still attain that goal. Building a new habit around a new goal is difficult, yet people do it all the time.

Persistence without resistance is key. Meaning that when things get in the way, know that these things are there for a reason, and that it is okay. Don’t resist what is happening, and continue to persist.

For instance, I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long time. And, have created the opportunity to do so, yet for the past two weeks, I’ve not studied very much.

Now, I could get frustrated, effectively resisting reality, and give up. Or, I can accept reality as it is, reserving all of that time and energy spent on being frustrated, and put that time and energy into studying.

In order for anything to exist in the world, there must be both concepts and actions that execute on those concepts.

And, to do both requires an understanding of how most human beings typically operate, which is inside of their comfort zones.

A comfort zone that will produce results that are similar to the results they’ve produced in the past. And, there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you are looking to produce extraordinary results, you need to be prepared to conceptualize and execute outside of your comfort zone. In that territory that is unknown to you, until it is known.

And to know that once that territory is known, it will be time to create something outside of your now larger comfort zone. This is the process of growth, and you are never too young or too old to grow.

#being-uncomfortable, #comfort-zone, #conceptual-thinking, #execution, #get-outside-your-comfort-zone, #living-with-change, #persistence, #persistence-without-resistance, #resistence, #strategic-thinking, #working-in-the-business, #working-on-the-business

Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes

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Have you ever tried to meditate? Been through classes on meditation, yet continue to struggle to do so? You are not alone. It is too often the case that people take “meditation” classes or yoga classes, and yet struggle to have an experience they feel should be reminiscent of meditation. Sound familiar?

Well, let’s take a look at three simple steps that you can take to create the space you need to take up a practice that’s been on this planet for thousands of years. And, we will take a look at these three steps in just four minutes. Ready? Alright, let’s go.

Step 1: Quite Space

First, you must find a space that is quite, away from distractions, as much as possible. Then, let those around you know that you need this time to be alone. One of the biggest challenges in creating a meditation practice, is creating the space you need to do so. And, you are the one that needs to create this space.

You can create this space, by creating a new boundary with those closest to you. Let them know that this is your time, and is needed, and necessary. Sounds simple, yet most people have boundary issues, and may push on the boundry you are creating. Hold firm. This is your time, and you deserve it.

When I started meditating almost three years ago, the above referenced boundary issue was something that I struggled with. Yes, you also have to hold yourself accountable to create that boundary within yourself. Important. If you don’t hold to the boundary you are creating, no one else will. And, you will be continuously interrupted. What will it take?

It will take you creating that boundary over and over again. Eventually, those closest to you will get that you are serious, and leave you alone. Be persistent.

Step 2: Focus on Your Breathing

The first year of my meditation practice, I called it breathing. Why? Because I didn’t know how to breath properly. Most people don’t. That’s okay. You can learn.

Here is what my first year looked like

  • 3 to 6 months – breathing for 5 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • 6 months to year 1 – breathing 15 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

And, here is what years 2 and 3 have looked like

  • Year 1 to 18 months – meditating 20 to 30 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • 18 months to year 2 – meditating 30 to 45 minutes at time, twice a day – once in the morning, and once in the evening.
  • Year 2 to today – meditating 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time, mostly once a day, though sometimes twice. Second time being 30 minutes in the evening.

The important thing to note, and remember, is that it’s taken almost 3 years to go from breathing for 5 minutes, to meditating for an hour most days. Slow. Creating a meditation practice is not about how fast you can do it. It’s about taking your time, yet being persistent. Building the healthy habit, slowly and methodically.

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Alright, when you are ready, here is a guide to your first 5-minute breathing exercise

  • Sit comfortably. You DO NOT have to sit in the lotus position. Actually I recommend not sitting like that. Simply sit in a sturdy chair, back straight, yet relaxed, hands resting on your thighs.
  • Set a timer, or a meditation app, if you have one for 5 minutes.
  • Close your eyes, and take a couple deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, and out through your nose. Slowly, deeply.
  • Now, breath normally, still in through your nose, and out your nose. And, as you breath in focus your attention on the air making its way through your nostrils – can you feel the cool air coming in? If not, that’s okay, then focus on the tip of your nose. If you can, focus on the air coming in through your nostrils.
  • As thoughts arsie, let them. If you begin to focus on them, that’s okay. When you begin to focus on a thought, simply bring your attention back to the air coming in through your nostrils, or back on the end of your nose.
  • And continue to repeat the above again and again. Thoughts arise, you notice, may even engage with them, then notice you are engaging, and refocus on your breath. Again, and again.

If you’ve just completed your first 5 minutes of breathing, nice job. You are on your way.

Step 3: Practice

Whether you are meditating for 5 minutes at a time, or an hour. Creating and maintaining a meditation practice, takes just that, practice. You must be willing to make meditation a priority in your life. It is like any healthy habit we want to develop; it takes persistence to build a regular habit.

The coolest thing about developing this habit, is that once you’ve done it for a couple of months, you will demand that space of yourself. Really, you will. You will hold yourself accountable to create that space; and, as you hold yourself to that standard, those closest to you, if they aren’t getting it, will.

And, the more you practice, the more benefits you will realize about incorporating meditation into your life. There are many. One of my favorite benefits, is that I have time for myself. Time to be quiet, away from all technology, and all people. We all need that time.

Practicing meditation is about learning how to focus your attention, as your mind continues to be busy. And, believe me, it will be. Yet, as we’ve discussed, let the thoughts come. It’s okay. And, as they come, notice when you are paying attention to them, instead of your breathing, and then refocus your attention on your breath.

Remember, creating a meditative practice takes time. Building this practice is not something that will happen overnight. It won’t, so relieve yourself of that pressure right now; and when you are ready, find a quiet space, focus on your breathing, and practice.

#attention, #breathing, #focus, #health-benefits, #meditation, #mindfulness, #persistence, #practice, #wellness

Persistence Without Resistance: Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by Alex Wong

What is the difference between conceptual thinking and execution? And, what lives inbetween the two? Let’s take a look.

A concept is considered an idea, intention, or plan to do something. Though conceptual thinking is needed and necessary, without the execution behind the idea, intention, or plan to do that something, nothing real will exist in the world.

I often think that people do very well at the thinking part of leading a concept or idea into a planning phase, yet often times during the planning and the following execution phases of a project, traction falters, and the project either stalls, or drops completely. Why is this?

I believe it has to do with the myriad of stimuli we find ourselves dealing with every day, combined with the habit of continually firefighting in whatever business we find ourselves in.

Two years ago I went to an all day strategic thinking training, which included people from all spectrums of work, from line workers, and administrative and operations personnel to company presidents. And, what did all of these people, including myself, have in common? Every one of us was spending more time working in the business rather than working on the business.

When you spend more time working in the business, you are reacting, and firefighting, which, in effect, keeps you on track to reproduce the same outputs and outcomes that you’ve already been producing. You are effectively treading water. If you feel this way about your work right now, you are not alone.

I learned a lot from that strategic thinking training, and one of the most important takeaways was that I was not alone. We are all trying to work on our businesses, or our marriages, or our relationships, yet we continually, without being aware of it, reproduce the same results every day, which keep us stuck in the same place we were yesterday.

To become unstuck, you must not only think, or conceptualize a different future, you must then actively create it. One step, or action, at a time. Otherwise you will continue to get the same results as you’ve always gotten. And, what did Einstein say about that: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

We cannot attain different results without “getting out of our lane.” We must remove the blinders that keep us in the same lane, and venture out into unknown territory. Uncomfortable, yes. Yet, these are where the jewels of life reside. The rare and wondrous moments of growth, are when we stop reproducing the same thing we had yesterday, with the same result, and take a different action, or set of actions, giving us different results.

Conceptual thinking and execution are both needed. When you have both, you have the ability to create new future realities. And, inside these new realities, you have the opportunity to live life in new ways. Ways that were previously unknown and unavailable to you. Regardless of the context.

How do you do this? First, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable, as the journey to creating new realities through new conceptualizations and corresponding new executable actions will be new territory for you. Because humans feel most comfortable inside their already created patterns or habits, living outside of them is uncomfortable.

If you are prepared for such discomfort, the process is not altogether difficult, and must also include an openness to all that is happening, and all those around you. Meaning that things will happen that get in the way of the actualization of your created concept, or you may forget about it at times.

The most important thing to remember is that becauses things happen that get in the way does not mean that you cannot still attain that goal. Building a new habit around a new goal is difficult, yet people do it all the time.

Persistence without resistance is key. Meaning that when things get in the way, know that these things are there for a reason, and that it is okay. Don’t resist what is happening, and continue to persist.

For instance, I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long time. And, have created the opportunity to do so, yet for the past two weeks, I’ve not studied very much Now, I could get frustrated, effectively resisting reality, and give up. Or, I could accept reality as it is, reserving all of that time and energy spent on being frustrated, and put that time and energy into studying.

In order for anything to exist in the world, there must be both concepts and actions that execute on those concepts. And, to do both requires an understanding of how most human beings typically operate, which is inside of their comfort zones. A comfort zone that will produce results that are similar to the results they’ve produced in the past. And, there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you are looking to produce extraordinary results, you need to be prepared to conceptualize and execute outside of your comfort zone. In that territory that is unknown to you, until it is known. And to know, that once that territory is known, it will be time to create something outside of your now larger comfort zone. This is the process of growth, and you are never too young or too old to grow.

#business, #comfort-zone, #creativity, #extraordinary-results, #growth, #life, #persistence, #psychology, #self-development