There’s a special something that makes it hard for me to write to you some days.
It’s the same thing that makes it hard not to burn toast, and it’s the same thing that sabotages your creativity when you need it most.
I’m writing a draft, and I feel a sudden urge to stop and look at a different browser tab for a minute.
I’m reading instructions for how to improve my Unbounce page, and I suddenly need to make a coffee.
I’m hiking in the Woodside hills, surrounded by silent redwoods, and I get a distinctive yearning to check my email.
It’s the biggest leak in my life, and I call it the Whiles: Let me start doing this little thing WHILE I do this here big thing that’s already in front of me.
The Whiles kick in for me when I’m working away and suddenly I sense that I’m getting close to something good. My inner Lenny rumbles awake, that desire to grasp for the good thing with all my strength so it doesn’t slip away.
Next my uncertainty fights back — a protective mechanism that stops me just short of getting scarily close to the good stuff. Because if I get too close, I might squeeze too hard and you know how that story ends.
We all have uncertainty inside. Being conscious, first we’re aware of ourselves and next we’re aware that there’s a lot we don’t know. And this doubt gets stronger as we get closer to the jackpot. The higher the stakes, the greater our fear of losing them.
Maybe there’s something amazing inside us, but owning it is going to require us to be bigger than we’ve ever had to be.
So we look the other way, creating leaks on purpose because we’re afraid if we look directly into our own light we’ll be blinded.
I have a very effective way to look the other way: I multi-task when I really don’t have to. I do things While.
And, I can feel when I do it. I can feel myself getting a hankering for the While, wanting to invent an unnecessary multi-task to break up the intensity of focused awareness.
While is the most addictive pattern of our minds. It’s the pattern of chosen distraction, and it most often kicks in when we’re getting close to something great.
How can we be greater than the pattern? How can we be stronger than the strongest While?
My need to look around, and my graspy inner Lenny, get calm when I practice full attention on anything. Over time, the attention muscle gets stronger, and the While gets weaker.
You can try it on ANYTHING, whether it’s listening to how someone’s day went, playing a round of frisbee golf, experiencing a sensation of pleasure or pain in your own body, or sending out 15 sales followups — all without interruption.
Like a long sprint interval:
1. Set a timer for 30 minutes
2. Choose your thing
3. Do your thing AND ONLY THAT THING until your timer goes off
If that was easy, you can make it 45 minutes. PS, try it on something that’s normally hard to stick with.
Reducing the Whiles will make it super clear what’s really worth your love and attention. It’s the most effective way to get more from anything you do, because you give more.
What are your biggest WHILES?
Here are a few of mine…
Cooking WHILE checking flights WHILE answering an email
Planning my day WHILE meditating in the morning
Writing this facebook note in my head WHILE my hands and feet do something completely different
and lots more! :)
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