I love this story from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
As my writing teacher Jack Grapes says, process leads to product. What gets in the way of people engaging and producing is usually some form of overthinking. Because we don’t control our thinking it is not as easy as Bob Newhart would like us to believe to change our thoughts or our behavior by just stopping it.
Our behavior follows our understanding. We do what makes sense to us in the moment, and if paralyzing overthinking looks real to us we will feel the effect of it and act accordingly. In order for our behavior to change, we need to see something new. Our perspective needs to shift. The Nike mantra, “Just do it!” isn’t enough. We can use willpower and pushing for a time, but eventually, we burn out. There is an easier way.
Am I good enough? Do I measure up? Am I doing enough? How do I get better? How do I improve? These are some of the questions that can get in the way of us creating what we want. They all revolve around a separate “I” and suggest you can reduce suffering by improving the “I” or giving the “I” a good experience. These questions, however, are founded on a misunderstanding. The suffering of the “I” will never be solved by personal development or moments of pleasure. The solution to suffering comes from understanding the source of the suffering is the misunderstanding of a separate “I” period.
Fortunately, the individual “I” is not all of you. It is a constellation of atoms that is part of you but not the full picture. The full picture is far greater than the sliver of you that you can feel, see, and touch. There is no real separation, but the “I” you make up makes it look and feel as if there is. It sees the material world as the entire picture, but this is a limited vantage point. Quantum physics has some sense of something beyond what the illusion of material reality presents when it recognizes that 99.9% of matter is empty space, but it cannot make the final leap because science can’t measure the essence that is the emptiness but isn’t empty. The formless field of infinite potential can only be theorized in physics, but as humans, we are part of it. We are the dynamic ongoing interplay between the form and formless even if it is invisible to the eye.
When you get a sense that you are more than meets the eye, and taste the infinity that lies beyond your five senses, you just know it. When you realize you are infinite potential, what is there to worry about when it comes to productivity? The solutions to everyday situations like how to get along with your spouse, how to make more money, how to be happy, or how to create art all come from the same source that created the entire universe. No problem is too big or too small for that intelligence. Everything comes from the source that Sydney Banks called the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, what others call God or consciousness. Everything you want to create, every possible experience, is there in formless potential. Suffering, motivation, how to survive, they are all created through the same principles.
Looking to our infinite nature may seem to have no relevance for our day-to-day lives, but it is behind it all. We can’t see it, but we experience the effects of it all the time. It is where our experience comes from no matter what our experience is. Seeing this helps me to let go. I get better at surrendering to the natural creative process that is always happening independent of my effort and learning how to flow with what is more gracefully.
The power of seeing this is practical. When you sense your true nature that exists beyond form, when you experience what it holds for you, it opens you up to possibilities and to the unknown. It points you in the direction of your potential. What it did for me is help me to see my worries, insecurities, and anxieties in a new way so they looked more trivial — even silly. I still have them at times, but I know they are part of the tapestry of separation that starts to unravel when I look to where it comes from.
Your ability to create comes from the same source as everything else. You are not the source of your creation. It starts beyond you. If you think you are having trouble with productivity, you are just not seeing what you are producing. You are constantly creating. You can’t help bringing your thoughts to life and creating your experience. You might not be producing what you want, but you are producing nonetheless. Seeing your creative process at play helps you recognize the power of it and to move into greater cooperation with what is. This results in greater freedom and fewer feelings of overwhelm, inadequacy, and pressure.
There is less focus on the imaginary “I” and more engagement with what is in front of you. You are present to life and simply do what makes sense in the moment. You do not have to know the grand design. You do not have to be the grandmaster. There is a deeper knowing unfolding inside of you that you don’t have to be consciously aware of every aspect of it. The intelligence that guides electrons and atoms is the same intelligence at your service. It is your source. The well of your inspiration that is infinite.
Your productivity whether it is wiping your nose or creating an empire comes from the same source. There is nothing to overthink. There is only engaging to be done. Engaging with what is right in front of you. You don’t have to create thought. You are thought. You are one thought. We are the same thought. We are the timeless, spaceless, potential of that thought. We create form from that thought, in whatever way occurs to us in the moment a kiss, a punch, a community, a bomb, a nation. All coming from the same source. All figments of our imagination brought to life.
You are always being productive. You are always producing that one thought and bringing it to life in the myriad of ways that make sense to you. Are you producing fear, judgment, distress? Are you producing love, harmony, and peace? It is all part of a day’s work of being human. Seeing the production is like understanding the magic trick. When you see it, it is no longer compelling, bewildering, or disorientating. It just is.
My inadequacy, my insecurity, my badness come from the same stuff as my goodness, my competence and my confidence. They are all experiences that come through me via thought. Floating in and out. I don’t control the flow. I am the channel that gets to experience all of them. As Rumi said, “Welcome and entertain them all!” No harm comes from feeling our internal experience. It all comes from the same source.
I am that source. You are that source. We are that source. It is vast, deep, and infinite. It is the balm that shrinks our worries. It is the opposite of separation and nihilism. It is the loving intelligence that is. You are not outside of that. Seeing this is what helps you to just do it. You do it from love because that is who you are. Experiencing the answer to the question, “Who are you?” Is the only motivation you need. When you see this, your productivity takes care of itself.
Rohini Ross is excited to present The Soul-Centered Series in Santa Monica starting October 2018. She is passionate about helping people wake up to their true nature. She is a transformative coach and trainer, and author of Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1). She has an international coaching practice helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, watch her Vlogs with her husband, Angus Ross, and subscribe to her weekly blog on her website, rohiniross.com.