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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Managing the Difficult via the Easy

My goals for 2011 are a bit different from prior years. Instead of doing the specific goal-listing e.g. lose 25 pounds (although that is actually a mark I would like to hit this year :-), I've chosen to go for concepts or ways of being instead, reasoning that if I follow these basic tenets, the specific goals will come in line.

So far I have come up with: consistency, focus and simplicity. (I'm tempted to add more, but then that kind of undoes number 3 :-).

I was happily working on consistency and going through my day-to-day reveling in the notion that if only I would do all the things I do so well SPORADICALLY on a CONSISTENT basis, that all would be well, when it hit me: I AM consistent. I am consistently INconsistent! I tend to flitter and flurry in fits and starts energetically diving into a project with 150% earn-a-Girl-Scout-Badge enthusiasm only to burn out a few weeks later and not accomplish what I originally set out to do. I am surrounded by incomplete projects and enterprises that are a reflection of my consistency.

So, I thought...well, I just need to FOCUS. Focus...what a great word. Implies power and determination and stick-to-it-tiveness. That's what I need...MORE FOCUS! So I set out and work on the here and now only to find my focus drifting once again and here I go off into fits and starts.....just in a more determined fashion.

I stop and think....I will always be a grasshopper at this rate and never snatch the pebble from the master's hand if I don't get a grip on this....and the solution presents itself. What I need most, is practice. How many things in our lives have we EVER become great at or even marginally competent at without PRACTICE. Practice makes perfect has been drummed into our heads from an early age. Learning to walk, writing cursive, driving a car....everyone expected and allowed for us to have practice, and lots of it. Cursive writing, for you remember the reams and reams of specially lined paper and hours spent learning to master the skill and then more time developing one's own style? No one would have expected us to just pick up a pen and be a master at that skill without YEARS of practice!

I reflected on the philosophy of one of my favorite authors and horsemen, Mark Rashid (I highly recommend all his books to horse people or not), about how we have 24 hours a day to practice proper breathing and also all the other hours in the day that we are not with our horse to practice various aspects of being a better leader and so on. All of this time we can use to our advantage to train ourselves.

I began to see all the opportunities throughout my day to practice the type of consistency I want in my practice greatness on a small and doable level. For example, following through with putting the laundry away right away instead of plopping it on the bed to handle later. Or any number of very small actions that can be taken throughout the day to practice being thorough. I reason that, like my horsemanship skills, these things when practiced will bleed over into the larger and more challenging aspects of my life that I want to change.

I remembered some quotations from the great Lao Tzu: "Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small," and "Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy".

So, I guess I will go ahead and add one more word.....PRACTICE.

Sue, practicing in Ohio

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