I was recently asked what advice I give women starting – or dreaming of starting – their own companies. What have I learned about getting it done without getting… undone? How do I stay in the flow of a day when the current changes mid-stream? The answer is simple, though not always easy: Be Present.
I’m reminded of the saying, “Make a plan, and the Universe laughs.” Our schedule may be packed tightly from dawn until dusk, or we may be loosely aware of the things we want/need to get done in a day but not the exact timing of how to do it. No matter what, at some point during the day, our plans will not go…. according to plan. So how do we pivot within the day without losing balance? How might we use each unexpected turn as an opportunity to accept and expand?
Rumi teaches, “In order to understand the dance, one must be still. And in order to truly understand stillness, one must dance.” To discern the time to dance from the time to be still, I ask myself, “What is the most important use of my time in this moment to be of maximum service to others?” For example, I may be in a scheduled meeting when another need arises that’s more time sensitive, calling me to mindfully tune my attention to this new matter, then return to the previous moment. Navy Seals are masters in this discipline, training their minds to process incoming information using “the three R’s”: Receve, Reflect, Respond. For the Seals, successful mastery of the three R’s could be the difference between life and death. When we Receive, Reflect and Respond, we avoid becoming unraveled and frustrated by the multiple opportunities present in each moment.
I’ve become comfortable slowing the pace of my life down. When something unexpected comes knocking on my door, I pause. I breathe in the energy around me, reflecting on information available to me in the present moment and the past, always keeping future goals in mind. Only then do I try to discern my next move. In the absence of clarity, choosing not to act – Rumi’s stillness – may be what’s called for at that moment. When we find our flow, we can also trust that our colleagues have found theirs. Instead of taking others’ pivots personally –seeing them in terms of interoffice politics or personal relationships —-we intuitively understand that we are all finding a flow. Patience with others –and with ourselves – allows the flow to keep going and the dance to continue.
Cultivating this awareness is the real art of letting go. When we flow through the day with our best and highest selves, we can be sure our intentions are pure. When our intentions are pure, the day always has a way of working toward the best outcome, even if we cannot see how just yet.
If life is but a series of moments, how do you choose to spend yours today?