I’ve been thinking about a river. It’s substantial, quietly powerful. But not insurmountable. And it’s relatable, you can feel something like it flowing in your own body.
Graham Duncan described the river this way. On one side is chaos and the other rigidity. One side is entrepreneurship and the other is career stability. Many set out swimming close to rigidity and choose to stay that way – some never even glance over at the other bank. Others make their way over and are still there fighting the current. Chaos can consume us, but rigidity kills us in quieter ways. But realize this: you don’t have to stay where you are. You can play with what you need in that moment.
You can guess which way I’m heading.
The river is also something described in The Path of Least Resistance. Water in a river flows along the path of least resistance. Your habits and inclinations are products of the systems that you are participating in. You can try to change some single aspect, some water get splashed onto one bank but unless you change the underlying structure, the water will seep back to the river. Focus on the structures that create your actions, build structures that make desired actions easy.
One structure Josh Waitzkin in The Art of Learning discusses is a trigger. A trigger is poised for you to pull to create a state of relaxation (an interesting coopting of such a violent concept). He described how he helped one coaching client build his trigger. He started with a routine ending in his client’s favorite activity, the one that put him in a totally relaxed and present state (playing catch with his kid). He had his client preface that with four ten-minute activities to prepare him for that relaxation state (eating a snack, listening to some music, stretching, meditating). After associating that cue with his relaxation state, the client could then use that routine to preface some other challenging activity (a board presentation).
I’ve been working on my trigger and I didn’t even realize it. Get up, go for a walk with my girlfriend, do a ten-minute yoga class, have a smoothie, take a shower. A slice of rigidity to build me up for the chaos.
Which way are you heading – chaos or rigidity?