When I first started practicing hot yoga, my instructor gave me a valuable strategy for hydration. She said that if you wait until you’re thirsty to reach for water, it’s already too late. Hydration starts the night before. Don’t come to class thirsty, or you’ll be in a world of pain.
Her advice reminds me of the classic zen mantra, dig your well before you’re thirsty. And what’s fascinating is, that concept has applications in almost every discipline.
Executive coaches tell leaders that if they’re waiting for a company wide survey to tell them what employees really think, it’s already too late.
Investors tell entrepreneurs that if they’re waiting for the market to tell them that a need exists, it’s already too late.
In fact, the most powerful application of this mantra relates to the creative process. Every morning, for example, I start writing not knowing what I’m going to write about. All I know is, in that creative moment, I completely trust my ability to sit down and respond to something. I believe with unshakeable faith that there will always be words waiting for me. That the forest will provide. The ideas will come when I need them.
But that’s the easy part of the job. The hard part, the unspectacular labor that actually fuels my creative fire, commences days, weeks, months, even years before that moment. Because long before sitting down at the blank page and beginning the frightening work of flying blind, I’ve already invested thousands of hours building my mental library one idea at a time. I’ve already done the work as a consummate gatherer of good ideas and nifty notions and savvy strategies, each of which I’ve captured and cataloged and conceptualized and connected.
That’s what increases my odds of being creative before I even sit down to create.
Otherwise, if I wait around until inspiration strikes, it’s already too late.
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How do you dig your well before you’re thirsty?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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