When your thinking rises above concern for your own welfare, wisdom which is independent of thought appears.

Miyamoto Musashi, Book of Five Rings

This is perhaps my favorite quotation, it is from “A Book of Five Rings” and is at the heart of all good service. Early on in the life of a field engineer, he/she must learn to let go of all personal concerns while troubleshooting in order to “see” the problem and implement the repair.

If you are stressed by a plane deadline, mad at your boss,concerned about your kids, part of you is not “there”, and you are more likely to make matters worse,whatever action you take, as a result. Anytime I catch myself growling inside about something not EVEN close to where I am and what I am doing, I’ve learned to pay close attention to my actions that day, trying to be a little more deliberate and conservative in how much I do. While we may not be able to put off our responsibilities, it sure helps to cut down on the self imposed friction that selfish thinking will surely bring to the unfocused.

Letting go of concern for your own welfare is not a natural ability, except maybe to mothers with infants who understand immediately that caring and giving for that child is priority one. Some parents “get it”, some do not, but what you truly have to give a child requires that you place it’s concerns and needs above your own. The “wisdom that appears” comes back manyfold as any real parent knows. When you really think about it, look at the way people handle their lives, you can see this thread in all things. Those who’s egos affect thier thinking have excessive friction and misery in their lives and those who dedicate themselves to something higher than their own glorification seem happier and more content with themselves, less threatened by the things they can not and do not seek to control.

“Immature strategy is often the cause of grief” is yet another little pearl of wisdom from that Musashai book I’ve carried in my briefcase for more than 15 years, and the casualities of immature strategy are rampant in todays society, as institutions and families crumble and struggle under the load of pressure to do more with less, using technology and automation to meet deadlines and quotas. Stress is thick in the enviroment; the traffic,the cube farms, the schools and the soccer fields…...too many trying to do too much with too little and the pressure of time running through all of it. Stress is an over reaction to an intangible pressure with very real consequences reflected statistically and constantly in our lives.

Stress and our reaction to it need to be recognized and refined, and the best way I have found to do that is by seeking silence; taking pause, daily, to just sit and breathe,trying to relax the mind and let go of the details. I’ve got one of those type A personalities, so I never really succeed at meditation, but i do achieve a re-equilibration of sorts, feeling more balanced and better prepared to accept the day. In difficult situations, periods of high travel and stress, I rely on this more, using yoga stretches to improve my circulation and release tension in my back and neck. I have a physical reaction of yawning when I do yoga, and it is like a cloud of fatigue being released when it occurs, very rejuvenating. When things are going wrong, just stopping the way you’re reacting for a few minutes (ie,doing nothing, just sitting as still as possible and breathing deeply and calmly) and collecting yourself will always improve your results.

Every problem requires the clarity of correct observation to “see” the solution. We have been pushed so hard for so long that we cannot truly “see” that at least part of every problem is our reaction to it. What we know first and foremost is how it’s affecting us; we see only the symptoms, we feel the consequences. When we let go of our need to react, when we stop looking through the eyes of our ego’s, we get that clarity of observation and “see” the right path to take.

-8/22/2000, Back Porch, SSWRLDHQ.