I was giving a talk this week on Organizational Zen and asked the participants to jot down what their intent was for attending. There are a couple of things I like about focusing on intent.
- When you have a clear picture in your mind of why you’re doing something – whether it’s working, going to a meeting, taking a class, or having a conversation with an old friend or with a complete stranger – you listen differently. When you know what you’re looking for, you’re more attentive which makes whatever you’re doing a great use of your time. As Eckhardt Tolle says, whatever you’re doing now is the most important thing you can be doing. So choose with intent, and then show up.
- When you don’t have a clear picture in your head of why you’re doing something and can’t for the life of you remember why you chose to be there – leave. This probably isn’t a great use of your time. Even if this is something you used to love, if you feel your energy drain even thinking about participating, it’s time to do something else.
- When you don’t have a clear picture in your head of why you’re doing something AND you feel in your gut that this is meant to be – stay put. There’s magic at work.
I bring this up because a class participant told me her intent in coming to this talk was to find a magic solution to make her organized. I laughed – but over the course of the evening found myself referencing magic a couple of times.
First, magic came up when we were talking about the healing properties of meditation. I experience a magic opening of the world when I meditate and others in the room shared the experience. When you meditate, even for a short period of time, you feel a magical connection with the world and beyond the world. It sounds crazy – so we’ll just call it magic.
Then we were talking about how creative ideas descend on you, and I mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. In the book, Liz talks about the difference between magical thinking and magic when it comes to creative thought. Liz believes there are creative balls of energy moving through the Universe. On occasion, if you’re open to it, one hits you giving you a burst of inspiration that seems to come from nowhere. I’ve experienced this, and it’s magic.
Finally, we were talking about decluttering and the weird magic that happens when you clean out a closet. Or clean off your desk. Or declutter an energy-draining person from your life. From a simple act of decluttering, you get a magic lift of energy. You feel decisive and magically inspired to declutter more of your life.
So I didn’t have a magic potion to help this woman get organized, but as a group, we shared experiences that could have magic consequences. You know what I’m talking about?
Think back through your life to the really strange coincidences, random choices, and gut decisions that had a major impact on the direction you were headed. This might include:
- Choosing to buy a house in a specific neighborhood, with a specific school system.
- Choosing where to go to college.
- Experiencing a major loss – like losing a loved one, or losing a job.
- Stumbling on an article or book that gave you an idea for something to do, say, or explore.
- Meeting a stranger who ended up being a best friend.
It’s humbling realizing you were in just the right place at just the right time for something magic to happen. And what a joyous thing.
I’ll give you a weird, quick example from my life. My first year of college, I was home for spring break and picked up a copy of Time magazine. As I thumbed through, I stumbled on an ad for a full-semester Outward Bound leadership course based in North Carolina. I wasn’t loving being at the University of Virginia, and the idea that I could spend a semester in the woods, learn leadership skills, and get college credit sounded crazy-good to me.
I tore out the ad and took it back to school. I thought about it for a month or so and finally called for more information. The course sounded great but because it was brand new, I decided not to go – but just for that semester. Instead, I headed into the woods for the first half of my third year of college and that decision changed everything. Who I married. The children I had. Where I ended up living and working. What I did for work. It even got me to Maine. To this moment. Right now.
And all from a brief glance at an ad in Time magazine in the spring of 1979.
So I don’t have a magic solution to get organized. But I do believe in magic. My intent today and every day is to look for it. And to find it.
Happy magical thinking on a VERY windy day here in Maine! I snapped the whimsical art below on a First Friday walk last night in Portland. This is on display at Think Tank.
2 thoughts on “All magic – and no magic potion”
Similar to you, I started a journey by seeing an article. This one, about the Pacific Crest Trail, was in National Geographic in the early 1970s (I stumbled upon it in 1978). Five years later, I turned north from the border with Mexico to begin my hike to Canada.
Life changing magic indeed!
Hi Jeff. I love this story! I didn’t know what got you started on this journey that’s been such a huge part of your life. Very cool. Thanks for sharing!