I haven’t written here for a while as I’ve become involved in a big project. So big that I had to do the old ‘how many cows have I got?‘ test and put all other projects, inluding this blog, on the side for a while to stop myself from feeling completely overloaded.
The project is to help organise a tour of Spain by the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 2014. The planned events for the tour include a 5 day family mindfulness retreat for 600 people in El Escorial (near Madrid), a public talk for 1,500 people in Madrid, and in Barcelona, another public talk of similar dimensions and an Applied Ethics retreat (for educators). There will also be public meditation events, such as a peace march in Madrid, and a massive public sitting meditation in a square in Barcelona, similar to an event in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2012.
This work is of a dimension that I’m not entirely used to (as someone who has spent the last 7 years working from home on our business with my wife!), but I have every confidence that’s it’s going to be a success, and I’m learning the skills I might have been lacking as I go along thanks to the other wonderful people that are involved (there are four of us in the ‘core team’ of organisers, and many many more who are supporting us – We are all working on a volunteer basis.)
But already I’ve come up a few times against that difficult old friend of mine, Doubt. Will this all work out? Has this or that been the right decision? At first I would voice doubts to one of my fellow organisers, and always they would come back with a ‘no problem, here’s the solution’. And sometimes they would voice doubts to me, ‘how are we going to do a webpage for this?’ for example, and seeing as I know a huge amount about web pages, I’d say, ‘no problem! I’ll sort it out.’
So quickly I’ve discovered that for every doubt that arises in one of us, there is a solution from another member of the team that has the required skills or information, and as such there really aren’t any problems. Just solutions I haven’t found yet, or need some help in getting to.
This changes the whole ‘doubt’ thing enormously. Now, when I feel that sinking feeling of doubt creeping over me, I feel confident that I don’t need to go running to someone else saying ‘this will never work’, or ‘I don’t think we can do this’, or simply, ‘I think we have a problem’ – now I stop and first of all just recognise that doubt for what it is – just doubt! And if it doesn’t pass on its own from the simple fact of having recognised it and sat with it for a bit, then I look about for a solution, or for who can help.
And instead of phoning someone up and saying, ‘we have a problem’ (which just fills them with my doubt too), I’ve found it’s much better to say, ‘I wonder if you can see a solution to this’. Recently when I thought we’d made a mistake in a decision, one of my fellow organisers said, “well, let’s just be consistent with the decision we’ve made, carry it through, and see what we can learn from it. If necessary we’ll take new actions later to fill any gaps that might open up.”
That way of seeing things has helped enormously – “let’s just be consistent with the decision we’ve made, and see what happens”. It’s very liberating – there are no mistakes.
So in just a couple of months I’ve learned a huge amount about doubt. It’s a terribly tricky old friend! But once you get to know it, you can say, “hello doubt, my old friend, not today thank you, I know that everything is going to work out just fine!” Doubt is quickly replaced by confidence. And I’m totally confident that this project is going to be an overwhelming success. I always have been since the moment I heard about it and thought, “Now that’s something I definitely can help come to fruition!”
I’ll share more about the journey over the coming months. And if any of you fancy coming to see Thich Nhat Hanh in Spain in May 2014, come along! I’ll post full details of the events and dates shortly!
Thanks very much as ever for reading.
A warm spring smile from Madrid,