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Flow like water


Last year, I had the opportunity to present a game-changing idea to an executive panel as part of an incentive to find new and innovative ideas. This was part of a global event. 32 different teams presented their ideas to this panel in hopes the executives would choose to fund their respective ideas. Several million dollars’ worth of investment capital had been earmarked for the winning team. Along with more than 100 participants, my team mate and I were flown to Las Vegas to make the presentation.


We had been talking about this proposal for over two years, and I knew the subject extremely well, so I was confident that we would have a good presentation. However, on the night before the event, the full impact of what was at stake hit me. I couldn’t sleep. Doubts crept into my pre-sleep consciousness. Soon I was considering whether I would be the best spokesman for the team. I did not want to let them down. Was there something in my material missing? Perhaps it was that late-night coffee, but I slept little, and awakened with an anxiety that was palpable.

As the hours led up to the moment of my anticipation, worry once again began to eat at me. I went to the restroom, looked into the mirror and said to myself “You’ve got this Bill! Quit worrying. Do the best you can and it will be okay!” My martial arts training came to mind along with this old Zen story:

A young martial arts student was practicing his techniques, and becoming increasingly frustrated. The old master observed that the student was preoccupied with the other students. Whether it was just their presence, or concern that they were better, it was obvious that they were distracting the student.

The old Sensei invited the student to walk in the woods hoping to find a solution. He explained “before you can master martial arts techniques, you must understand harmony.”

The pair came upon a stream and sat silently watching the water for a few minutes. Finally the teacher turn to the student and quietly said “There are rocks in the water. Does the water slam into them out of frustration or anxiety? No. It simply flows around them and goes on its way. Be like the water and you will know harmony.” The student went back to school and was no longer challenged by the presence of other students.

Like the story, I focused on being in harmony, went back into the room, and was no longer concerned about the other presenters or the panel members. My focus was on the presentation. From the response I think it’s safe to say that it went well.

When people and circumstances are distracting you from your potential, I hope you will remember this simple story. Be like the water, learn to flow, and you too will know harmony.

Have a great day everyone!

~Bill

 

Additional Note: The presentation went so well we were awarded funding for the project. On January 9th, 2017 we completed it. I will always be grateful to Aristocrat Technologies for this fantastic opportunity. However, my local manager did not share my enthusiasm for the project, and felt it was a distraction from my regular job. He ended my employment the day after the project was completed. Still, I am very proud of what our team accomplished, and have no regrets. In fact, I have a new job and thoroughly enjoy the work! :)