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Mindful : August 2015
It becomes apparent that John is quietly at odds with the rest of the team, although no one can ever quite trace the problems to him. You con- sider the way the team currently works; clearly, John is a major obstacle. You talk to him and discover that the problem is deep-rooted. John has to be let go. ACTING Ideas and insight are brewing, and at some point the time for observation is over. We need to move from exploration to action. Each stage rep- resents a shift in the feeling and energy of how we engage, and this is the most marked, which is why it’s particularly challenging for many of us. In the previous two stages we were letting it all in. The attitude of broad openness here changes to determined focus, saying goodbye to the world of options and to everything but our decided course of action. “Not-knowing ” needs to change to knowing, to a confidence in com- mitting to a course forward. That knowing may feel tentative, but at this point we have to leap. When is the time to act? There are two possi- bilities. The one we hope for is that we reach “suf- ficient” clarity about the next step. The other is a certain kind of energetic hesitation, when we find ourselves again and again actively resisting doing something specific. Part of us “knows” what to do. Acting requires courage. In the moment of acting we are alone. In fact at that fraught instant of saying the difficult thing, stepping across the threshold, making a definite move we can’t take back, we don’t even have the voices in our head for company. We simply have to do it. We invoke that fearlessness in mindfulness practice every time we go back to the breath, every time we let go of a thought or obsession. For a microsecond we are stepping into the unknown. It’s a wonderful training for moving into action. At the end of the exploration stage, the chal- lenge of giving in to impulse is joined by the challenge of getting trapped in hesitation. We might want to figure out how to accomplish our whole vision at once, or seek certainty, or try to do the perfect thing, or be too afraid to make a mistake. “Paralysis by analysis” is a common feature of organizational life. Both hesitation and impulse are based on fear, which lies behind so much of our obstructing habits. It is commonly understood that the way to work with fear is to look directly at it, to face it. There are many practices of fearlessness—sit- ting meditation is one. Sports and performing → 76 mindful August 2015 insight practices