“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” ~ Guy Kawasaki
I looked out over the bright white sand to the turquoise water. Sandpipers raced toward the waves and then darted back away from the breakers. I was in the shade under a large, blue umbrella, kindly set up for me by the resort staff. I had a large bottle of water, my journal and pen, and four different bottles of suntan lotion.
I inhaled and exhaled deeply.
I took a moment to acknowledge and thank Past Susie who had had the wisdom and self-awareness to book two days at the end of the conference to do precisely what I was doing: Nothing.
Nothing except the very important work of assimilation—reviewing all my notes from the event, journaling about key insights and next steps, and rest.
In years past, after an event wrapped, I would have raced to the airport in the pre-dawn hours, along with thousands of other conference attendees. I would have returned home late after a three-hour drive from the airport to the top of the mountain.
I would have wakened early the next day, exhausted, but would have pushed myself to open emails and mail, run to the grocery to stock the fridge, do mounds of laundry, fetch my dog from the kennel, cook dinner, and help my son with his homework.
I would have unpacked all of the notes scribbled on various scraps of paper and tucked them inside the back pocket of my journal, thinking that I would sit down later that day and go over all the ideas, discoveries, and largest levers for making changes in my life and business. There would have been no shortage of golden nuggets, and I would be eager to begin implementing what I had learned.
My good intentions would remain unrealized, though, as life, daily chores, and the funk of re-entry into the Muggle world sucked every morsel of energy from me.
I’d walk past my journal, which remained in the exact spot I had left it six days prior, and be reminded that I hadn’t even picked it up since returning home. 10 days after that, I would moved it from its post-trip spot to the bookshelf, lying to myself that I’d get to it when things slowed down a bit.
I’d forget about it until it was time to pack for the next trip, the next educational event.
Today was different, though.
I scanned the beach left and right and felt like the smartest woman on the planet. Hardly anyone was there. The hordes of people who had crowded the beach during the conference were now probably going through airport security, peeling off shoes, belts, and jackets. Standing in their socks, waiting their turn to walk through metal detectors.
Hurrying back to their lives, like the sandpipers racing toward the waves.
I troweled on my first layer of sunblock, pushed my sunglasses up onto my head, and turned my attention to my journal.
Spotting the Patterns
It had been an incredible three days at a conference for entrepreneurs looking to get to the next level in their businesses. I had stood in small groups, confessing my sadness and frustration with how overwhelmed I was, that I knew I had to make significant changes. I said I needed systems, support, and a strategy, but I knew that was all a smokescreen.
By the end of the third day, I had come clean and fessed up to myself. What I truly needed was a life of joy, creative expression, connection to Nature and Beauty, playfulness, healthy habits, vulnerability, and visibility. And sleep. A lot more sleep.
As I read through page after page, I spotted the patterns. All the elaborate subterfuge. The tenor chord of not feeling I was enough, and how the weight of that thought contributed to my physical weight.
I read the wisdom from the host of the event, my seatmates, my coaching circle, my own hand. I could see that I had already begun to do things differently because I was no longer on the gerbil wheel of overdoing. My presence on the beach was evidence that I was embracing clarity, time to think, and meditative thought.
I had already begun to signal to the world that my days without boundaries were coming to an end.
I sat on the beach, reading, thinking, and staring off into space for eight hours. Around hour three, an idea landed, and rather than race to do something, I let the vision grow in my mind’s eye, becoming more clear as the sun moved across the sky. I sat inside the idea, bobbing up and down in it, knowing it would come to pass. That it was a done deal.
The Surprising Reason We Don’t Implement
Four days after that long stretch of imaginative play on the beach, my vision became reality. Not all at once, though. It would take another nine weeks or so for it to become completely real. But the beginning of that dream’s realization had taken less than a week. Oddly, I had hardly lifted a finger to make manifest one of the most important moments in my business career.
How often do we gift ourselves buffer days after an educational event to do the essential work of assimilating content, new knowledge? Let ideas land and germinate? I would guess that on average, we consistently do so about 10% of the time at best.
How often do we gift ourselves buffer days each week? Time to do what looks like nothing to the casual observer, but for us is as important, if not more so, as our busy go, go, go time. Time to ruminate. Ponder. Stare into space. Time without interruptions, distractions, calls for our attention.
How often do we bemoan the fact that we’ve purchased this course, that content, or attended an event and never implemented a single bit of insight or learning?
Our first inclination is to cram in way too much stuff, appointments, responsibilities, and distractions, keeping the “I’m always behind” ball in the air. Staying in the zone of being stuck, feeling awful, and not enjoying any momentum.
Add in Buffer Time
Take a look at your calendar. Where can you add in buffer time each day, week, and quarter to rest, reflect, and dig around inside your ideas and insights? Be bold and mark through blocks of time and days right now. Pretend you are going out of town to an event and mark it as “out of office” time.
And if you are going to an event, give yourself two full days afterward to stay at the venue and away from daily life to decide which key teaching points you believe to be most powerful for you to implement. Select one or two and map out how to execute on those upon your return. Also, who were the most interesting people you met? Which ones should you follow up with via phone or email in a few days?
After your buffer days, ease back into the world you left (regardless if you traveled or not), but hold fast to your new mindset. Let it take you somewhere new. Let it breathe courage into your awareness.
Stay inside the soft center of the new idea and walk along beside it, keeping it close, and letting it mature and speak to you. Don’t run ahead and leave it in the shadows, or flailing in the breakers, abandoned.