The Single Most Important Thing To Do Before Any Business Task

“Inhibition,” said my Alexander Technique teacher. “That’s the most important thing to be done when you are becoming more aware of what your body is doing.”

When I first heard that word in this context I wondered about it – surely to inhibit something was not a good idea? But slowly, over a few lessons, I have begun to see that inhibition, or pausing, is crucial in unlearning habits that are not helping.

When you know you need to change behaviour; when you know you want different results, when you know you’re stuck where you are, you will realize that movement forward starts with small steps.

You might want a huge change, but nearly always that huge change actually comes about in small, if not tiny, steps, one after another.  And very often the first small step is to notice what it is you are doing that is getting in the way of that different result you ultimately want.

For instance, in the Alexander Technique sessions, I’ve been learning that by inhibiting the learnt behaviour of sitting down on a chair making an ‘old lady’ noise, I discover what I am currently doing with my body that is contributing to various aches and pains.

The inhibition, or pause, allows me to consciously notice what is currently happening, and the lesson shows me what to do (or not do)  in order to get the different results I want.

And the same happens in business.  It’s all too easy to rush in and do, do, do to get more, more, more.  But if inhibition is applied, then a whole new way of being with the doing opens up. I know this might sound a bit mad, ‘being with the doing’, but here’s how it works.

Say you have a deadline which is just a few hours away (like me with this article).  I knew that I was a bit tense about it already, as I was playing around with how I could get out of it  – post an article from the archives, ask someone else to do a guest article, just not send anything out – amazing what the mind can come up with!

But eventually tonight I paused long enough for inspiration to come through. And it’s when stopping in this way occurs, that inspiration has room to move,  flow is allowed, and the job or task becomes easy.

It all starts from inhibiting yourself.

Here’s what to do when you next find yourself tense and anxious about work in any respect:

Just stop.

It will go against the grain (but that is what you want anyway, if you want to get different results). You might have to make a commitment to yourself to stop (because you will almost definitely not want to stop), and find ways to avoid stopping, but stopping is what needs to happen in order to be able to start again from a different standpoint.

Once you stop, bring your attention to what is actually happening. Are you holding your breath without realizing it? Is there tension in your shoulders? Do you feel uncomfortable somewhere without knowing?

Take a scan through your body and consciously release any tense muscles you find.  Flow can occur much more easily when there are no obstructions (like tight muscles) in the way.

Take a moment to consciously breathe into the tense places.  Re-connect with a place of peace inside – or if you don’t find that, reconnect with any aspect of nature (why I like to have fresh flowers near my desk).  Be willing to wait for a natural movement from your mind and your body towards the task in hand, and then see what happens.  Notice if you approach the task differently.

Without a new starting place, you won’t be able to bring the fresh open energy that is required to allow the flow that brings effortless ease in its path.  That’s what’s happening with this article right now.  I had started about three others earlier, and they didn’t feel right. The words were not flowing, I kept getting distracted, and going off topic. “You’re taking it right up to the line this time, Jane” were the kinds of thoughts I was having.  And then, tonight, with a pause after doing some other work, came the flow.  Try it next time you have a specific task to do and let me know what happens!

5 thoughts on “The Single Most Important Thing To Do Before Any Business Task

  1. great piece jane (I started to type ‘peace’ there!!) Alexander technique helped keep me going years ago when my work was very physical, so I’m a great advocate. reading it just now reminded to change my posture, breathe more deeply, and remember I was about to switch off. thanks x

  2. This was me in the early hours of this morning working on just a paragraph. I nearly gave up but when I took the pressure off allowed and”the flow” what had been taking hours took moments. All day today I have been telling myself to just take small steps just do one thing at a time and that that was ok, and once again the pressure and the feeling of being overwhelmed disappeared. Good to open your newsletter this evening.or rather this morning!

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