Sunday, February 15, 2009

Predicting the Pebbles

My sister and I talk a lot about mind like water. We got it from a YouTube video of a talk that Getting Things Done author David Allen gave at Google about a year ago.

Essential to the metaphor is the fact that a pool of water is really good at accepting a new input, reacting, adjusting accordingly, and then regaining equilibrium. Throw a pebble into a pool, and the pool splashes a bit; ripples flow; the pebble settles on the bottom; and the pool smooths back to a state of readiness, a state almost identical to that of the pre-pebble pool. Throw a boulder into the pool, and the pool splashes a boulder sized splash; ripples might as well be waves at first; the boulder crashes into the bottom; pebbles and dirt down there move around and resettle; the water level rises noticeably; and the pool smooths back to a state of readiness, a state that might look a little different, especially if there's a chunk of boulder forming an island in the pool, but a state not at all unlike that of the pre-boulder pool.

And the basic mind like water teaching is that in order to achieve a mindstate that can accept all new inputs - pebbles, boulders, and everything else - we need to cultivate a stillness and emptiness that will allow us to commit total mindful focus to any emerging sight or sound (or event or person or thought or piece of news).

And there are lots of thing people do to try to cultivate that. Meditation. Exercise. Calendars. Alarm clocks. Alcohol. Various kinds of to do lists. Commitment never to carry the heaviest, most difficult thoughts around for long.

And there are lots of applications, situations in which mind like water starts making lots of sense.

For example, a couple of days ago, Gary Vaynerchuk posted this video...



Just some fun little interconnecting thought lines: social media early adoption and minds like water. Be fun to hear Gary Vee's thoughts on the metaphor.

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