Finding An Anchor
T.S. Elliott once wisely said, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” As I wriggle back into “normalcy” after our wondrous adventures in Costa Rica, I find that I’ve a whole new appreciation for this place I call “home”. I’m seeing with new eyes. Sometimes stepping away can be the greatest gift we can give ourselves.
And yet there’s discomfort too. I’ve forgotten my daily rhythm. Tasks that normally come quite easily, take more effort. I can feel myself being more tentative – lost in the sea of all-that-needs-to-be-done, wanting to disengage. Intellectually, I know that that’s exactly the time to “lean in”, but physiologically and emotionally I’m getting all the signals to cut and run. I feel fatigued. Heavy. My goldfish-like-mind flitting from one thing to the next. Overwhelmed. Left to my own devices, I tend to will-power my way through the thick swamp of my mental yuck, only to find myself in the creative dregs with nothing fresh and new to give. It’s times like these that I know I need an anchor.
For me, my anchor has always been ritual. Jonathan Fields, in his terrific book, “Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance“ talks about ritual acting as a “psychic bedrock”, and I’ve found it to be true. I know that to bring my most creative, focused, high-performing-self to my work, I have to ritualize as much as I can so that (as Jonathan so eloquently says) my “brain (has) permission to run unencumbered in the quest to create the greatest possible something from nothing.” It’s an incredibly useful tool that is overlooked in the corporate arena.
Ritual gives us something we can count on. Jonathan calls them “certainty anchors” that “counter the anxiety that comes…from living in uncertain times.” Writers, Artists, Actors, and other creatives have used ritual for centuries as a means to center themselves so that they can unleash their life’s work, and perhaps it’s time for business to do the same?
For it’s not just post-vacation-re-entry that requires an anchor – every office is rife with need. Change is our daily diet and ambiguity the air we breath. We expect everyone to show up to work creative and innovative and able to work at the speed of light. That’s simply the normal backdrop of our every-day-lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re CEO of a Fortune 500 or wearing a million different hats in a start-up, if you want to succeed – no wait…if you want to survive – it is critical to find ways to hold strong in the currents that toss us about.
I know for me to get back into my groove, I need to reclaim my rituals – to ground myself – and over the next few days, that’s exactly what I intend to do. What small rituals can make up your anchor? How can you set yourself up for success? Because tides are normal, but none of us wants our best self to be washed away.