So, I am now at the start of week five. Four weeks into this project and I am significantly behind where I wanted to be at this stage.
Stating this publicly is a little worrying for me, because our culture teaches us to present an invulnerable front, especially in business. To appear to be “perfect”.
But although I am not perfect, I know I have strengths, so I am going to take a chance and do this.
What has been happening for me is that I have been experiencing my own churning: in the struggle to work out what to include, what to leave out, and what order to put it all in. And also because of the news from Gaza, where so many children are being killed. And from spending time on other projects, which puts me behind schedule, which then creates its own churning. And all this has slowed me down.
So, I am going to use this as an opportunity to work through my own process. To apply the lessons of The Churning, and find out what happens.
I expect that if I do this then I will:
a) get rid of the churning I have been experiencing, and
b) learn something new and useful
If this doesn’t work then frankly you shouldn’t buy the book, and I shouldn’t write it.
This post is going to be me “thinking out loud” to achieve that.
Steven Pressfield has written about Resistance. He tells us what it is, describes the different kinds, and tells us how important it is to get through it. But he doesn’t do a very good job of saying how to achieve that.
The Churning tells us how to overcome resistance, get through the blockage. Step by step.
Step One is to let go of the churning (the ‘Resistance’) I was feeling. To realise it is there and decide to do something about it. I did that when I reviewed the situation, realised that the way I have been working isn’t getting me the results I want, and decided to spend some time reflecting on what is happening. I also briefly applied the Sedona and Tapping techniques, simply by imagining doing them. Then I decided to write this post.
Step Two is to make sense of the situation. That is what I am doing in “journalling” like this. What I wrote has actually been through several iterations, with new insights coming with each iteration. I have edited these and put them into order for you to save you time in reading.
The reality of the situation, I realise, is that I only worked two days last week, because of spending time with my children, and some friends. And I’ve also been working on another project and setting up a major new third one. So really that’s only three and a bit weeks gone, not five weeks. And all of these other activities are significant and important to me, so I don’t regret the time spent on any of them. So realistically I am probably only two and a bit weeks into the project, and though progress is still not what I wanted, it is not as bad as I was pretending.
Steps Three is to realise that the challenge I am experiencing is an opportunity to grow. In this case, this was part of why I chose to stop and review. So perhaps this chapter needs to go first? I think more likely this means the process is circular, with each step reinforcing the others, rather than something that is linear and that we go through once. (But I will remain open to the possibility that the chapter order needs to change.) And in the journalling it also means that I know to ask myself explicitly what the learning is. My apparent “lack of progress” is also an opportunity to learn.
Step Four is to choose to grow. That was part of my initial decision to stop and spend time reflecting, to find a different way forward. (This tells me the process is definitely iterative.)
Step Five is about finding our priorities. Any ‘difficulty’ is a time to find out whether our goal is really worth it. In my case it is. Before I started writing this I was really struggling with myself. Now, having decided to stop, reflected on the situation, realised the opportunity, and discovered that this goal is important, I have confirmed again that this book is an important priority for me.
I want to emphasise that what I have written here is not my whole thought process. That has jumped around, back and forth, repeating points, making them clearer, learning frm one to another, deepening my insights. I have edited all this to make the (final) lessons clearer and to save you time in reading it.
For me the clearest lesson so far is that:
- This stuff is not easy.
If it was easy then we would already be it already. And if we were doing it already then we wouldn’t need this book.
- The fact that I am not doing it already shows that my culture hasn’t taught me how to deal with churning, which implies that it hasn’t taught others too. Add that to the success of Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, and we see a point of view that reinforces the need for this book.
- The Churning is in fact a very simple, straightforward process. Which works. If I remember and choose to apply it.
Step 6 is to create an inspiring vision. Step 7 is to move forward with awareness, knowing that I will be facing more churning as I advance, both in myself and in those around me.
How can I include these steps now? Step 6 is the clearer vision and understanding I have given myself that the book is needed. The root cause of my churning in the past weeks was that I wasn’t clear, I didn’t have a clear enough vision, that the book was needed. Creating my own ‘churning’ and then taking myself through this process has been a way both to clarify the need for the book and to confirm its value, as I test out the process on myself.
And I think Step 7 is simply to enter the writing process with deeper acceptance that it won’t be easy, but a solution can be found.
With hindsight this has been an opportunity to learn, reinforce that the Churning works, and does more than other similar books have done in the past: the specific how to element.
I seems that the ‘crisis’ that I was sitting with when I started this review was that I did not have a clear enough, confident enough understanding that this book would be useful. Taht is what has been causing my block.
By using The Churning’s process, that has been turned into a clearer vision of the need that exists for this book, and a clearer understanding and confidence that following the steps actually works. Even though I did not understand when I started the process that that was what I needed to find out.
The end point, that we will all get to, is a knowledge not of how to avoid all churning in the future, but how instead to expect that it will arise, confident that when it does so we have a method or technique that we can use to transform the ‘problem’ into a deeper understanding of our situation, what we want instead, and how to get there.
This is truly beyond anything I was consciously aware of when I sat down to write this post.
When we face churning, as I have been doing over the past days and weeks (that things were not going the way I planned) we have a choice:
- Continue to press forward, with the churning growing as do so
(This is what I chose to do that brought me to this point)
- Shut it off completely and just press on regardless
(I choose not to do this because I know that I cannot only switch off ‘unhelpful’ emotions, I would have to switch off all emotions, including joy and love. I choose not to do this — I know it doesn’t work for me — and I choose to.)
- Face the churning, understand and work through it, using the simple steps laid out in The Churning.
Treating my own churning in this way this has helped me. I hope it also has helped you.