Just hold on loosely
But don't let go
If you cling to tightly
You're gonna lose control
- Hold On Loosely by 38 Special
About three months ago, I was inspired to start a new practice. In the interest of fostering my own creativity and dampening down my tendency towards perfectionism, I decided to start every day by writing for 15 minutes. But here's the kicker: whatever I wrote, I would share in this space. No edits. No reflection or rewriting. Immediate sharing.
I've often talked about the virtue of daily writing with those I coach and I've shared thoughts about it here. The kicker aspect was the scary stuff. The thought that I'd put out unedited and often not fully formed ideas terrified me. I'm now three months into the practice and the thought of sharing imperfect ideas, letting creativity fall where it may is now fine with me. In fact, I like it. Occasionally I truly love it. I've been grateful that some (no, not all) of the posts have generated interest, conversation and connections.
I recently realized however that there's been a downside. With my focus on making this a daily practice, on several recent days, my writing moved from a fun and exciting thing to do to a SHOULD DO kind of thing. Some days the flow wasn't there. On other days, I had a good idea that just didn't have legs. Yet, I pushed on. And on. I did so until last week when, inspired by a colleague who had a similar experience, I decided to just take a break. No post. No newsletter. Just a break to see how it felt and what would happen.
Shockingly, the world outside continued! My life continued as normal in almost every realm. Those same mornings where I typically meditate, read and write, I did the first two and enjoyed them. Then I just went on with my day. And guess what? Nothing happened.
Well, actually something did happen. Over the next two days, I had more compelling ideas come to me at the oddest moments. While I was showering. While I was running. While I was reading. While I was playing the guitar. No matter what I was doing, I made sure to capture the ideas immediately. I've now got a backload of ideas, half-written posts and maybe the beginning of a new book. All of that happened while I was on my break.
Here's my point: Over the last few months, I've come to realize that for me the harder I work at something, the harder it becomes. The beauty and simplicity is that the more we give ourselves space and don't push, the easier life becomes. Coincidentally, when I started a wonderful program I'm doing now with my coach, we (the participants) all chose a song that connected with how we approach things. I chose 38 Special's "Hold On Loosely". This was kind of an odd choice as I'm not a big 38 Special fan and have no prior connection with the song. Yet it seemed the right thing at the time. As I've continued in this place of learning, it has taken on meaning. The Holding On element connects with my commitment to doing and being what I want to do and be and creating the results I want to create. The Loosely part is the incredible secret sauce. Loosely allows for connection and commitment without gripping, tension or working at it too hard.
Whatever you're doing, see what happens when you hold on loosely.
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Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com