Zen & The Art Of Boat Building
As I ease into the second of the fifteen months I’ve set aside for ‘work’ I’m entering a dip.
You know what I’m talking about right?
You’ve had them too.
One of my ‘mentors’ Seth Godin wrote a whole book about dealing with dips. We all get them.
Every new project (or job, or hobby) starts out fun…then gets really hard, and then not much fun at all.
That’s the dip.
When you’re in a dip, fear and doubt team up against you.
You question things.
Is what you’re experiencing just temporary? Is what you’re doing the right thing? Will it get better if you keep pushing? What if it doesn’t? Should you give up? Is this just a setback or have you come to a dead end?
But winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win. Remember?
Ok, that’s not always true.
Big winners know a dead end when they see one.
But they also know that dips can be a good thing. They show you’re on the right road.
They know that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If they’re not in a blind canyon they push on, they climb out of the dip.
But most of us aren’t big winners. We’re just ordinary guys and gals struggling to do better.
We have big ideas, we start strong, we climb higher.
Then out of the blue the dip comes.
We lose sight of our goal. We lose heart. We give up.
My writing took a dip this week.
I’d produced 50,000 disjointed crappy words that no one would ever read.
No theme, no direction, no idea.
Fear and doubt started kicking my ass.
So what in the Universe has this got to do with Zen or boat building?
Bear with me.
I decided to fight back. Get things clear in my head.
I went back through my boat building blogposts and created a mindmap timeline. Key events, milestones, setbacks etc.
And reading those posts reminded me about dips.
Building ‘Gleda’ took 8 years. There were many many dips.
Dips were ten a penny back then.
This from 2013:
Summer departed temporarily today with thick low cloud and persistent drizzly rain. It only served to remind me how time is flying past and left me in a heavy mood as I thought about all that is left to do with Winter approaching again.
Time is tight, money is tight and on days like today the launch seems as far away as ever.
I know it’ll pass, I know I’ll keep going, I know I’ll get there, but I can’t lie, building this boat is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I was getting used to dips by then. You can see that by the way I ended that post.
But those years of boat building gave me a priceless lesson in life.
To reach big goals you have to be all in. Heart, head and hands.
Zen is about staying relaxed and not worrying about things that you cannot change. It’s about stepping back listening to your heart and letting The Universe guide you.
Boat building is an art that demands attention to detail, hard work and persistence. It demands learning new skills and putting them to use. It demands planning and management. Your head and your hands do that.
I was all in when I built ‘Gleda’. The dips were just that, dips.
They couldn’t stop me. I kept going. I won.
This dip is just a dip. No worries.