Have you ever become involved with a task, event, or something else that seems too challenging to overcome? Something that, no matter how much you practice and how hard you try, you’re never quite able to grasp it? You go until you’ve had enough, but if only you could accomplish this thing…
I was lucky to learn about the power of doing nothing at a young age. This happened during my time playing the trumpet. I played the trumpet for about ten years. I found talent quite good and loved a challenge of counting certain parts or hitting certain notes. Sometimes I would sit and practice for hours, trying to wrap my brain around a piece of music. Trying to hit a certain note. My face would hurt, my brain growing tired, and I would become frustrated. I would put the instrument away, sometimes for up to a week, and when I returned to it VOILA!
How did that happen? I practiced all that time, grew so frustrated, and for nothing? Something didn’t add up. But I learned the power of putting it aside for a while and returning to it later.
I had enough, took a break, and then got better.
If you already have a certain skill or idea of how to do something, sometimes you are trying too hard to get it done. Forcing a thing done is often frustrating. The frustration mounts and we can tend to give up when, in fact, it’s not the task we are working on that is frustrating. It may be we are hungry, tired, mentally or physically exhausted, or that we need to refresh ourselves and try again later. It’s easy to come back with a new perspective and laugh about how easy the thing was, in the end.
During my years of working in hockey, I first thought it was important for me to show I was that guy who stayed until the end of the day. I would never leave until I finished “everything.” I would often stay late and be the last one out of the rink to make sure nothing was undone.
It took several years, but I finally received some sound advice from a couple of people I worked with (thanks, Rick and Sluggo).
“Go home. The same pile of crap will wait for you until tomorrow.”
It wasn’t that I, or we, didn’t like the work. But it was because the things I was staying around to do were so unimportant. It was okay if some things I left unaccomplished. Why wait around, grow more tired, “get everything done,” and come back the next day not as refreshed as I could be? One of the guys I worked with would make me go home and come back the next day, ready to go. And it worked.
It was sound advice. In fact, some of the soundest advice I’ve ever received. Don’t be afraid to take a break, go refresh, and come back to it later.
A recent example of this is Peyton Manning, champion of Superbowl 50. Peyton, to be blunt, threw footballs like marshmallows last season. His best attribute in his later career might not have been his physical abilities, but rather his mental abilities. When coach sat him on the bench during the season I told people he’d be back, and that he wasn’t done yet. He is too smart and determined.
Unless his young backup could come in and be infallible, it was Peyton’s year. Peyton received his break, the rest he needed, and time to sit back and watch. Peyton got to plan, digest, and gain some clarity. All in time to take the reign for the final games of his career, including the Superbowl. It’s not to say he didn’t get a lot of help along the way, but if your quarterback isn’t good enough, you’re not going to win games.
If it sounds silly, try it.
Grow frustrated with something. Grow tired and fed up with something. Put it aside and then return to it later. Your subconscious mind (and conscious at times) will play the situation over again, helping you to overcome the obstacle. The power of the subconscious mind is very strong, and your brain can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined experience. This is why visualization is just so powerful. You can improve by simply thinking about a thing.
Remember, you are already smarter than the smartest supercomputer (sorry Watson). Use this to your advantage. Push until you’ve had enough, put it aside, and come back to it later.
Eliminate another obstacle. Check out Ignore The Noise: Focus On What Matters.