Knowledge is only a rumor until it is in the muscle
When you cross the river, get rid of the boat.
In the previous post I wrote about my neighbor and her beautiful garden. She’s always working on it. Her clippers are always in her right hand as she wanders through the garden. She’s a quick draw and will snip a dead shrub or feral branch in the blink of an eye. Her clippers are close at hand and she’s prepared.
Here’s lesson number two: Part of constant tweaking and improving is that you got to be prepared with the right tools. Make it easy to improve and tweak. Structure your day so that you have time to exercise, eat a good breakfast so you don’t snack on junk during the day, buy healthy food so that when you want to snack you have good food close by, set up filters on your email so that you give full attention to the right people.
Equip yourself with the right tools and it’s easier to improve day to day.
I have a neighbor with a green thumb. Her garden is wonderful. It’s like the one in the film The Secret Garden, but in California. It’s full of flowers and trees like roses, maples and nasturtiums. With the flowers come humming birds, dragon flies and bumbles bees. It’s a beautiful place to just sit and be. Here’s what I’ve learnt from her style of gardening: Always be improving. Whenever she’s out in the garden she does a little weeding, clips a branch here and there, tames an unwieldy mint patch or waters a thirsty lemon tree. Maintaining her garden isn’t done once a week, it’s an ongoing labor of love. The result is a wonderful living and breathing sacred place.
It’s a good lesson for work and relationships. Always be clipping and making small improvements. Small improvements accumulate like compound interest – it starts to gain it’s own momentum. Next time you are mindlessly checking Facebook, stop and ask yourself a question: Instead of infinitely scrolling to nowhere, where could you be clipping, weeding or watering in your own life?
Do you ever look in the rear view mirror and re-litigate decisions in your head? The “woulda, coulda, shoulda” shtick. Most of the time it’s not a productive exercise, but it can be enlightening if you use it as a barometer to asses your tolerance for risk and openness to learn.
As you push the envelope you are going to make mistakes. Slip ups are part of being out of your depth and wading into new space. I’d argue that a life of zero defects probably means you aren’t experimenting enough.
Experimenting and trying new things means giving up some of the outcome control, but it also accelerates learning and exercises your risk muscle.
Look back and learn.
Simplify things. This isn’t just about the things you own. It’s about the personal and work commitments as well. Say “no” more often and say “yes” to a simplified life. De-clutter your life. Pick one or two things and do that super well. Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Go deep, be present and give it 100%
You know when you are in the flow. Decisions feel like perfectly paired joints locking together. Opportunities in the form of people, ideas and things uncloak. You don’t look back or forward, there is only now. Recognize and remember the flow feeling. You’ll know it when you feel it.