I’ve spent the last two years exploring, thinking and developing. Concept development. Self-development. Brainstorming. Big picture stuff. And it’s been great. Fantastic, in fact. But now it’s time for action. And because this action involves several projects and a fair amount of juggling, I’ve spent the last month trying to figure out how I’m doing to do it. How to embark on 2011 without feeling faintly (or not so faintly) overwhelmed.
Four wings on a dragonfly
I’ll let you into a secret. I don’t, personally, like planning. Determining the strategic way forward for me.
Without analysing it in depth, as a child, rational thinking was the holy grail of behavior, both at school and at home. Law school taught me to be even more logical. And yet somewhere along the way, I began to subtly resent and resist this expectation to value reason above emotion and instinct. Having made choices at crossroads I wouldn’t have made if I was listening to my intuition, I began to allow myself to feel my way through things. I’m good at helping other people plan, but I don’t like doing it myself.
Or I didn’t, until about a week ago when I reluctantly, then almost joyfully came to the realisation that doing both is a mighty fine idea. You need both for balance, you need both wings to fly. And in my case, I need four. Like a dragonfly. Such beautiful, brilliantly aerodynamic little creatures.
Just a few years ago, Dr Jim Usherwood and Dr Fritz-Olaf Lehmann from the Royal Veterinary College and University of Ulm used a specially designed robot dragonfly to examine the aerodynamics of four winged flight and they found that “two pairs of wings can allow the dragonfly to produce higher forces, allowing acceleration and climbing, while, if the wings flap with the right timing, the lower wings are able to reduce the energy wasted.”
If my top two wings are reason and emotion (logic and instinct) then the lower two are connection and kindness. Reason and instinct may help me soar, but being connected and kind (to myself and others) reduces the amount of energy I waste.
This is about being connected to myself and others and nature. It may sounds little ‘self-helpy’ but in order for me to ‘produce high forces’ (sticking with the dragonfly analogy above) I need to be in my element, connected with my sense of purpose, my gifts and passion. And I need to be connected to others and with nature. I cannot, and simply do not want to, do it all by myself. Where’s the fun in that?… Besides, I’m part of a family, a community, an eco-system and my piece is simply one part of a glorious global puzzle.
There are numerous quotes on kindness, but this one from the Dalai Lama is a favourite…“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples: no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temples; the philosophy is kindness.”
Most of us know, and are taught as children, to be kind to others. But being taught to be kind to ourselves is not, I think, as common. How many of us have much higher expectations of ourselves than we have of others? Are much harder on ourselves than we are on others? Although it seems contradictory, I’m finding that being kind to myself, accepting that there will be a days where sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea replaces the exercise hour, is an essential ingredient of my recipe for balance.
A recipe for balance
If the four wings on a dragonfly is the analogy which works for me, then I also have a recipe for balance which seems to be working well. But I’ve gone on long enough for today. I’ll take you through my ingredient list and method for balance, in the next post. In the meantime, let me leave you with David Attenborough and a dragonfly in slow motion.