When All Else Fails, Play the Zen Game

When All Else Fails, Play the Zen Game

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

There are no musts in life. Only choices and consequences. Everything you do (or don’t do) is a choice.

So, before taking action on something ask yourself – “Do I really want to do this?”

If it becomes apparent that you don’t actually want to be doing it then stop doing it and reflect on why you are doing it.

Your why can essentially be based on the following three things:

  • Want to (inspiration)
  • Have to (desperation)
  • Should (rationalization)

If you find yourself doing something because you think it is a “have to” or “should” then explore if this doing is part of a bigger “want to”. If it is then remember that you chose that “want to” and that this piece fit into it. You are freely choosing an uninspired action because it’s part of something larger that is inspiring you that you have also freely chosen. That realization alone can be transformational.

For example, I don’t love everything about running my own business (e.g. taxes, accounting, invoicing). But I do love to work on realizing my personal and professional vision. Taxes, accounting, invoicing etc is just a small price to pay for getting to work on what’s most meaningful to me – coaching people and creating transformations and breakthroughs. If I wish to serve people in the most powerful way possible then I need to take good care of all aspects of my business. That’s usually all I need to remember to regain my focus and get back into action.

If you realize that you are doing something to boost your self-image (others will judge you negatively if you don’t do it) or to avoid feeling guilt or shame then see if you can just let it go. Being motivated by fear always leaves negative residue and ends up taking more than it gives.

At times your “want to” will be more of a “whim”. A whim is a momentary want. If your whim is seemingly positive and easy to follow; act on it as soon as possible. If your whim would require a major investment of time and energy then sit on it for a few days. If the will to act is still strong after this, then go for it!

IF there is something that you don’t want to do AND you’ve realized that it’s part of that larger “want to” (but you still have zero appetite for it) THEN it might be time to pull out what I call “The Zen Game”.

“The Zen Game”

The Zen Game can be played with any mundane tasks that we all face in life (washing dishes, brushing our teeth, sweeping the floor) and everything else that we do but do not find much joy in (hint: you are not finding it because you are not creating it).

The name of the game is deceptively simple and counter intuitive, put more love into it. This means bringing conscious awareness to it and becoming very curious. Get your whole body into it. Literally. It’s possible to be completely connected to my feelings and my sensations at the same time as I’m writing these words. Cleaning bathrooms and sweeping floors can be a practice in mindful movement as well as a vigorous physical exercise. You get a clean space, a clear mind and an energized body.

The essence of the Zen Game is this; don’t wait for an activity to infuse you with energy and enthusiasm, instead bring those qualities to the activity itself. The more you give, the more you will get.

Practice this and you will come to realize that your capacity to infuse the seemingly meaningless with purpose and to transmute the ordinary to the extraordinary is virtually limitless.

 “ The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” – Robert Pirsig, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

#coaching #leadership #management #personalgrowth #inspiration #zen #psychology #philosophy

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