Several years ago, in the midst of a substantial multi-brand positioning project, my colleague and I were stumped. We were conducting iterative focus groups and had come to a strategic crossroads. Discussing the issue had gotten us nowhere, and we had one hour before the next group of respondents were coming in. We decided to take a break.
During our break I meditated, while my colleague responded to emails. In the course of my meditation, a new answer to our dilemma came to me. I went to my colleague afterward and told her about the thought that had come up. She agreed it was the solution we’d been looking for and we implemented it immediately. Problem solved!
Now granted, meditating is not doing nothing. In fact, there’s really no such thing as doing nothing, since even in our sleep we are breathing, pumping blood, dreaming and more. But you already know that. And you already know that the reason some of your best ideas come to you in the shower is that you’ve stopped trying to “do something” about it.
I thought about giving these Sage Words the title, “The Power of Doing Nothing,” but that isn’t the whole point. Yes, doing nothing is powerful, and can even be, counter-intuitively, productive. But there’s more. When we are so busy always doing something, we miss out on hearing our own inner voice. The one that may already have the answer we’ve been looking for. We miss out on learning more about what drives us, and what’s driving us crazy. Spending some time alone, not doing anything, allows us to tune back into ourselves, and to reenergize.
Here’s a challenge: Take some time to see just how little you can do (meditate, observe a sunset, watch a campfire or your pet goldfish for an hour), and make note of what happens. Notice how hard it is not to do anything! See what thoughts come to you and maybe, when you’re done doing nothing, notice what you didn’t think about. We’d love you to share some of your experience here. How did you go about doing nothing? What insights came to you?