Doesn’t it always seem like you should be doing something? Isn’t it hard sometimes not to keep doing something?
Marshall Goldsmith has written an excellent post about how it is sometimes better just to leave things alone. It isn’t just about not doing things but also stopping those things that are just making things worse.
It is common to associate progress with activity. Sometimes lack of action leads to progress. Often the most difficult problems are not solved since they are being attacked in the same way as the old problems. A moment to reflect could lead to the realization that a new way needs to be tried. It can be so hard to stop to think. Usually it makes all the difference.
I try to gauge how much time I’ve spent on a problem and how much progress I’ve made. If I feel I’m spinning my wheels then I reluctantly realize that I need to take a break. Once I have time to step away, and let my subconscious work on the problem, the solution eventually comes to me. It happens at strange times and places but it usually happens.
On the other hand, if I had stuck with it I would have still been stuck.
More thought is usually better, unless you get into information overload and indecision paralysis. Sometimes choice and judgment can play games with your mind. When that starts happening, maybe its time to stop thinking and start doing. Naturally it is a balance of stop and go. Otherwise you would never get anywhere or you would never be anywhere 🙂 .
It is fairly clear that business is all about going. Family is more about stopping. Well, at least in this house it is.
When things get out of balance, change is likely to occur. In the case of too much activity, perhaps stress will lead to illness. Many employees treat work as their life. Life isn’t just about getting somewhere. Life is also about enjoying the path to the end.
I’m going to quote a passage from the Tao Te Ching related to this topic:
Better stop short than fill to the brim.
Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven.
So, grasshopper, grab the pebbles from my hand! Or don’t. Find your balance. The rest is easy.