We were talking the other morning on the golf course about settling our minds. One of the folks with whom I play will often stand over a shot for 20 seconds (I’m not exaggerating) before starting his swing. I asked him, as we rode around, what was going through his mind. He just grinned and shook his head and said “I don’t even know – it all comes so fast.”
I know exactly what he meant. My friends have, from time to time, called me “Sybil” on the golf course after the book and movie about a woman who has multiple personalities – she hears lots of different voices in her head. The reality is that both my playing partner and I have monkey minds and there’s the business lesson.
That term is Chinese or Japanese and means “term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”. Those aren’t the characteristics one needs to play golf well nor to conduct business. Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, co-founders and head coaches of VISION54, talk about a “think box” and a “swing box” in their teaching: you think in one; you clear your mind and swing in the other. I see that they’re now extending their teaching to business and that’s my point today.
The reality is that it’s not external things that unsettle our minds; internal things do. Being able to breathe, to calm oneself and to focus is not a skill that we teach or demand of subordinates but I’m convinced we should. We’re in a culture where a monkey mind is almost demanded – there’s too much going on to stay too focused for long. Yet that’s exactly the opposite of what business demands. Staying on task, free from distractions and focused on the job is hard for anyone and I think it’s doubly hard for younger employees since it’s a very different experience than how they live the rest of their lives.
What do you think? Is a monkey mind something that can be harnessed to work for you or does it work against you? Let me know!