Much has been written about flow and being in the present moment. I have read a ton of it, searching for keys to experiencing more flow in my life and work. I can work so hard at times that I exhaust myself in the process. There have also been too many times in my life when I have worked like crazy and not been particularly satisfied with the outcome or the journey. Does this sound familiar? When I look around at my family, friends and clients I know I am not alone in those experiences. Of course we have all had times of flow as well. However, it can be challenging to find your way back once you get off track.
When Christine Comaford asked us, a group of highly motivated entrepreneurs, this question, I had one of those “aha” moments. It is such a simple yet potent question. It is a simple context for observing your experience in any given moment. What makes it potent is that it also gives us a very clear choice that we can make to shift our experience immediately.
Take a moment and think about these two words. I am not asking “what do they mean?”, but rather “what do they feel like?”.
While both words imply moving forward, each provokes a very distinct experience. If you have ever watched a world class dancer or athlete they make their execution of extraordinary skills seem effortless to us as the observer. They are not trying to get to the end of the performance or the game. They are focused on executing flawlessly in each and every moment. Runners are taught to relax into their stride rather than to push themselves to the finish line. It actually conserves precious energy. Champions, while their eye is in the prize, learn to stride in their execution. If you want to be a champion in whatever you do or even just enjoy the journey more I suggest you learn to stride more and strive less.
WHERE DID WE LEARN TO STRIVE?
In our society, particularly our business culture, there is a lot of attention on achievement. People are striving to be the best and to do their best. And there is certainly nothing wrong with either. Some of us even thrive on the adrenaline rush that often comes along with the drive to succeed. Yet the way we go about achieving anything can either fuel us or leave us exhausted and/or unsatisfied. We can spend too much time thinking and worrying about the future that we forget to be present in the only moment we have, right now. We can work really hard trying to do everything and go as fast as possible only to end up exhausted. We can get so caught up in all we have to do that we miss the moments in our lives that are truly the most precious. Perhaps the most surprising cost of all is that we can achieve extraordinary things and be left feeling unsatisfied, like it is somehow not enough or that we haven’t gotten “there” yet.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO STRIDE?
The simple answer is we know it when we feel it. So at best I can attempt to describe the feeling from my own point of view. Nonetheless I’ll give it a shot. I invite you to answer this question in your comments as well.
My first thought is that striding is like flow – that experience when everything just seems to be clicking. We lose track of time. It takes effort, yet feels effortless. We feel inspired and often make remarkable progress. And when we step away from what we are doing, we have this intense level of satisfaction knowing we just did some of our best work.
My second thought is that perhaps the difference between striving and striding can be the difference between working hard and working smart. Chances are if you are working at a frenetic pace, feeling pressured and stressed out you are striving.
SO LOOK AT YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW: ARE YOU STRIDING OR STRIVING?
A final note of thanks… A few weekends ago I participated in a workshop called the Business Acceleration Intensive with Christine Comaford of Mighty Ventures. I want to thank Christine, Paul Keetch and the participants in BAI for sharing your wisdom, your inspiration and for your incredible support. Somehow I think I will be striding a lot more knowing I have all of you in my corner.
If you want to experience Christine’s coaching I suggest you go to http://www.AskChristine.com and register for her next free teleseminar. If you do I highly recommend you submit a question.