But how can you not do? Surely just the fact you are a human being includes doing? And especially in business, where there are many thousands of successful business people saying you must implement, you must take action, you must keep taking steps towards your goals. How on earth can ‘not doing’ have a place in this?
‘Not doing’ only becomes relevant when humans forget they are human beings, and focus instead on being human doings, busy going from one task to another, without a break, with even pleasant tasks becoming just another thing on the ‘to do’ list.
And when your self-worth is bound up with your identity, if you can no longer ‘do’ your work, for whatever reason, you are left wondering who on earth you are, what is your place in society, and in some cases, even feeling ashamed and embarrassed about not working.
So long as you identify with action to determine who you are, then you will always fall over when, for whatever reason, that action stops, or is caused to stop.
Stopping taking action has happened to me over this past year of grieving for my husband. Since his death (in fact right up until fairly recently) I simply have not been physically able to ‘do’ in the way I used to.
My body has protested in the form of headaches that don’t go away (even with a pill) unless I simply stop and watch naff TV or read a lighthearted novel for a couple of hours. I never had headaches before, hence I know this is the result of grief. I haven’t fallen over though, because I know that who I am is not what I do.
And one of the amazing blessings of this last year is that I have noticed that even without me ‘doing’ things, things happen anyway! Even in the business!
Generally speaking, I have been simply responding to enquiries rather than initiating them; but occasionally I have initiated, for instance the Kindred Spirit article I refer to this week came about because I contacted them in a moment of inspiration about an idea for having a column for business in their magazine.
This article is the result of that.
So yes, that was apparently me taking action – but what kind of action exactly? It was inspired action, which is very different from motivated action (you can read about the difference here).
An inspired moment asks for action to take place then and there, if you can do that. It’s inspired because of the quality of energy with which you do the task, which is why some tasks seem to take ages and you struggle with them, and others seem to flow easily and take no time at all. It’s not the task itself that is the issue here, it’s how you show up to do the task. A very different kind of outcome can result depending on whether action happens (through you) or you take action.
It’s the ego that takes action (and loves to do this, especially as it confirms it’s importance in the world!); and it’s essential, un-nameable energy that causes actions to happen – even though the outer appearance seems to be the same.
And that’s the tricky bit, because the actions don’t look any different when they are done. They feel different though, to the person who is involved in the doing, and to the people on the receiving end.
One of the most important points about this is that when you are allowing action to happen, your ego is less involved. Sure, it has your personality stamped on it, as opposed to someone else’s (for instance, I write about this in a different way to someone else writing about the same thing), but there is a quality of detached
curiosity with allowing inspired action, almost as if you are watching to see what will unfold next.
Take a look back at your working week right now – have you been the one doing, or the one watching the doing-ness? Experiment with both in the coming week, and see which feels best to you, what results you get, how others feels around you. Be a detached, curious observer, rather than emotionally engaged with your tasks, and discover a whole new level to doing your work.