Seemingly contradictory advice: Show up and go with the flow

Michal Stawicki lives in Poland and he is passionate about personal growth and development.  He wrote The art of persistence: Stop quitting, ignore shiny objects and climb your way to success.

Show up

80% of life is showing up

And even though a lot of what he wrote in his book make sense, I must admit that I have a sense of tiredness because of all the striving that is inevitably part of the process. You’re always striving to be better and to improve and to climb climb climb all the way to success.

Maybe it’s because I let external circumstances unhinge the good habits that I’ve been implementing before the school holidays, which he says is not a good thing. He reminds the reader that neglect causes two negative effects at the same time: you don’t get closer to your goal and you’ve learned to add excuses for inactivity.

In the end I suppose the important skill that you acquire when you stick with it, is perseverance. And of course the added value that once you start with something new, it inevitably also influences the rest of your life to the better. Your intention, attitude and commitment determine your consistency.

Transformation isn’t brought about by a single grand action; it materializes by daily consistent effort. – Michal Stawicki

But some days I feel too much of a good thing is bad. I read once in Martha Beck’s Finding your own North Star that sometimes when you push far enough toward any extreme, you eventually reach its opposite! She adds these lines from the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu:

In the pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Way,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
Until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
– Lao-tzu

Some days I think, it is necessary to just go with the flow.


Karate and taiko: good for turning on the right side of your brain. Not. Good for whole-brain exercise.

In a post about turning on your right brain, one of Martha Beck’s suggestions is to learn new moves. I immediately thought that practitioners of karate and Japanese drum players therefore must have the right sides of their brains permanently turned to on.

However, when learning new moves in karate, say a new kata, I doubt whether it turns on only the right side of my brain. I find that it’s more of a pushing and stretching of both sides of my brain to actually try and work together. Although I must admit that sometimes moves on one side of the body are much easier than doing the same moves on the other side.

It’s the same with taiko (the playing of Japanese drums). Especially in the beginning:
Take the plain and simple don do ko rhythm. Boem boem-boem.
We get taught the “right way”: Right hand, right hand-left hand. So the first Boem is with the right hand, the first boem of the boem-boem is also with the right hand and the second boem of the boem-boem is with the left hand. With me?

We spend like a month or even longer (okay, I may be exaggerating for special effects, here, but bear with me) to perfect our right-handed Boem boem-boem.

Then, surprise-surprise, we get taught another “right way”: now starting with the left hand, which is quite frustrating to left-handed players after having gone through the trouble of learning how to NOT play with their naturally leading left hand first!

After a month (or even longer) of perfecting now both ways of playing Boem boem-boem, we find out that there is still another way of doing it: The Swing. You start with the right hand leading, but then switch to the left hand. [Actually, The Switch might have been a more appropriate name.]

Long story, short: Try to learn some new moves to turn on the right side of your brain. Chances are good, though, that you’ll end up exercising both sides of your brain. A win-win situation, if you ask me.

Be absolutely sure of nothing

I have a confession to make. I buy Oprah’s O magazine (the SA version) each month for the two (sometimes three) pages written by Martha Beck. These two (sometimes three) pages I then rip out and file away, because you never know, I might need it some day. The rest of the magazine first gathers some dust in a pile and then often end up being given away without having been read.
Martha Beck is my favourite self-help guru. She has this way of reframing my perspective on life jokingly but without being insensible. This month she wrote about 10 misconceptions that most people accept without question. She believes it is worthwhile to unlearn them.
As I don’t want to deprive you of the opportunity to read her article for yourself, I’ll just mention a few things that stood out.

Problems are bad.
Actually problems provide us with an opportunity to change/move on to better things…

Working hard leads to success.
She is of the opinion that play, not work, is the key to success.

Success is the opposite of failure.
We can only succeed if we fail and learn from our failures. She says that we succeed to the degree we try, fail and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well.

It matters what people think of me.
This one can really mess up your mind, because what YOU think people think of and about you, might not be what they’re thinking at all.

If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect.
But remember that good fortune has side effects, just like medications do. Whatever we believe will make us feel good, also have the power to make us feel bad.
She says that to attract something you want, you must become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. The whole point is the emotion, not the thing.

So to wrap things up nicely: Imagine everything. Be absolutely sure of nothing. Only an open mind can learn. 🙂