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Relax, don't do it: the ultimate way forward

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Relax, Don’t Do It: The Ultimate Way Forward

Let’s face it: we all go through dry patches. Despite the assurances we may proffer at networking events, and the knowledge that our work cycle may be wavy, not straight, it can get stressful if the gap between jobs stretches beyond our comfort zone. And I’m talking about real, paid jobs—not the talking, meetings, researching, browsing and other ‘legitimate’ distractions we employ in the fallow times.

My wife working on the complex plot for her next book

My wife, Olga Sheean, working on the complex plot for her next book

 Conditioned responses, automatic reactions

The learned response to such times is to take a deep breath, organize things and get busy. And it’s comforting, too.

  • Frenzied action allays the feelings of guilt around not actively earning money.
  • We can justify our existence; and we can blame the economic climate, the government, technology and even the weather, if things appear to have stalled.
  • As long as we stay busy, it’s okay. We’re doing our best.

If the brain freezes, check emails, take a hike on Facebook (there are plenty of platitudes there to comfort even the most cynical of souls), maybe even do some housework. Anything to keep the mind occupied.

And does this all help?

Hell no! It’s a downward spiral when all the doing is based on a fear of not getting. In this mode, we become tense, unattractive and unproductive, usually disconnecting from our intuition and from our authentic, creative selves. All the talent, wisdom and ability that we’ve spent a lifetime accumulating gets drowned out by useless, deafening, numbing noise.

Related: Are You Prepared For Doing Business In The Future?

Sometimes, the hardest lessons are really the easiest ones

Whenever my wife Olga experiences a lull in her work, she takes a counter-intuitive approach. She suggests we take time out, spend a day on the beach, go on a shopping spree, book a holiday. “But what about work?” I say, alarmed at the idea of spending money when there’s not much actually coming in. “Surely we need to secure more work first and then we can enjoy ourselves.”

I should really know better, by now. Over the years, I’ve seen that whenever I go along with her idea and we actually go out and enjoy ourselves, work floods in. At times when I’m consumed by the idea of getting money, this is bizarre and can even be slightly annoying. After all, I’m the one being serious and responsible here, am I not? Surely I deserve to be rewarded for that! But it seems that the universe doesn’t operate according to my petty fears and concerns, which is just as well, if you think about it.

The rules of creativity need to be re-learned

Luckily for us, the universe operates according to the rules of creativity, and I think we can all agree that creation is pretty amazing evidence of power of creativity. One of those rules is that creativity happens when we are relaxed, not when we are doing, trying, pushing and getting stressed. I also believe that this elusive, much-ignored faculty is our best and most powerful asset.

When things aren’t going the way we think we want them to, the best thing we can do is:

  • STOP
  • allow ourselves to integrate
  • process and receive.

Only then can all that good stuff stored in our subconscious mind start to work its magic again. After all, our subconscious has its own agenda, and it harbours far more power and creativity than we can imagine. If we push too hard and try to make things happen, with our conscious minds, we override that deeper, creative part of us that has the power to create synchronicities, opportunities and new doorways, without any effort on our part. So when things stall, we just need to stay out of the way and allow our subconscious to bring us what’s required—whether it’s a new idea or a new client.

When doing things the ‘accepted’ way no longer works, we must discover new ways. They won’t necessarily make sense to us immediately, but in allowing them to percolate and establish new neural pathways in our brain, we can move forward in unexpected ways. Things start to open up.


When we re-connect with this magical part of ourselves, we can reverse the downward spiral of tension in an instant, stimulating inspiration, creativity and its practical partner—innovation.

It’s a lesson that we would do well to remember. As we innovate, our automatic tendency is to establish processes to avoid the discomfort and ambiguity of staying in a creative mode. We think it will make things easier. To some extent, it does, but if we hand over all responsibility to a process, we risk getting caught up in the same old cycle.

Related: Why Sitting Pretty Inevitably Ends Up Pretty Ugly

Everything is in a dynamic state of change, so we must keep our creativity alive.

Nowadays, when everything is moving so fast, the need to embrace change, enjoy the creative process and cultivate a flourishing culture of innovation has never been greater.

Ultimately, we are all best at being our authentic selves. Trying to be something else isn’t a long-term solution to even the greatest of challenges. Every journey we take ultimately leads us back to ourselves, so resistance is futile! In order to access our best, we simply have to stop doing, despite all our resistance and our fear of not knowing what comes next, and just relax.

The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot.

The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.

—Sid Caesar

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Lewis is an artist, author, entrepreneur, inventor, marketing communications consultant and business mentor. Fuelled by creativity and driven by a passion to provide innovation, impact and influence, his career has taken in a large variety of disciplines, skills and experience across many areas of industry and the public sector. He has worked with startups, SMEs, multinationals, rock stars, legends of film, the UN, people with AIDS and many more. All this has made him at times cynical, but more than ever confident that the future is bright if we can only empower ourselves and each of us employ our unique creativity to help achieve this. Through his service - - Lewis offers a powerful four-step programme and a range of marketing communications services aimed at improvement, transformation, increased efficiency and profitability. He also runs creativity courses and courses in currency trading ( His most recent venture ( is concerned with making complex and long-winded information on websites fun and quick to understand and act upon. His first novel, Hominine - it's time to choose ( is a powerful geopolitical thriller that fictionalized popular global concerns - and then provides answers!

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  • Thank you fo rthat seemingly counter intuitive treatise ! The article reminds me of the Taoist Prinicple of Wu Wei – Doing by Non-Doing and the Toaist practise of Absorbing in order to be creative.
    A quote:

    “One of Taoism’s most important concepts is wu wei, which is sometimes
    translated as “non-doing” or “non-action.” A better way to think of
    it, however, is as a paradoxical “Action of non-action.” Wu wei refers
    to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite
    effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles
    of the natural world. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is
    characterized by great ease and awake-ness, in which – without even
    trying – we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.”

  • I wonder do we do “busy” to stem the guilt of lack of earning? If we fill the void, we don’t have to look into it and see or hear or feel its hollowness.
    A lovely read, Lewis and I especially like “we are all best at being our authentic selves.” It reminds me of the saying “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” By being, we already are shining the creative self, and attracting more of what we need (not necessarily work, but what we authentically need)
    Wow, there is nothing worse than the fear of the unknown, it really is the fear of nothing, so we DO something to counteract. 

  • Thanks Elaine and Elish for your comments. It struck me, as I reading them that unless we know how to be, we cannot possibly know what to do. But in our crazy society, it seems that people measure by what they do, and then have challenges with how to be.

  • Anwevans

    As I get older , it’s not the dry periods I worry about ( after all, accidental pregnancy is very unlikely), I worry more about the wet periods. Incontinence is a worry.

  • Adam Huner

    Brilliant Lewis, I think this describes my last five months. At one point I stopped fretting and just went with what was given on the day….very relaxing, I think I was channeling this from your mind….or was that Olga’s mind. I have been feeling an underpinning groundswell occurring around all my projects….creative thoughts come randomly and rapid fire. A good analogy is when we go to bed with a problem and awake suddenly with the solution. I guess you could say sleep is the ultimate relaxation. Maybe they could teach a course on how to sleep creatively in college. A great thought for the day…if not the year.

  • Lewis a very good post. You’ve struck a chord for many with your words. It’s helpful to remember from whence and how we came to be. The reconnect is beneficial.

  •  Sorry to hear that accidental pregnancies are unlikely. Have you tried applying testosterone in a gel. There are various other suggestions I could make, but perhaps not here…

  • Hi Lewis, this is one of my all time fav TYB posts, what a great message and one that we all need to be reminded of (most definitely including me!) 😉  

  •  Thank you so much for the compliment, Niall. I actually wrote it for myself, as it’s something I seem to find very hard to really understand. :0)

  •  So true. I think, in our hearts, we often long for the days of jobs for life, 2.5 children, a neat house with a white picket fence and the work day ending at five in time for tea and relaxation. But now, if we relax, the opportunities that present themselves are much more exciting.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    LIke many other business owners, I’ve experienced this gap. One observation that I noticed was that there is an emotional life that ebbs and flows within the gap. There is a message that supports that frenzied behaviour that you described in your post. The “shoulds” are guised as advice. In the end, it makes you feel inadequate. At least until you realise that banging your head against the wall doesn’t make it fall down.

    Hopefully for all of us, we have a moment when we see that doing nothing may be doing something. It’s when you let go of the outcome and the need to control the results that creativity and tolerance for ambiguity strengthen. I’m amazed how often I forget this and then how marvelously everything falls into place. Thanks for the reminder (and you’re not alone!).

  • Yeah I’m in the same boat as both of you, so a very interesting read. Thanks Lewis

  • Sabina Stoiciu

    Thank you Sian for your kind welcome! I’m glad the article showed you how simple it is to create webforms. This kind of technology nowadays evolved and aims to support even not very techie users in their work. As you also highlighted, a webform can indeed help you gather more targeted information than an email.

  • Some interesting ways of using forms. I’m not a big fan of using third parties for contact forms. Because of there coding patterns some bots pick up on them.

  • Sabina Stoiciu

    Nishadha, I’m happy to hear the form use cases brought some insight to you. About your worries, the latest generation form building solutions, such as 123ContactForm, have several options to increase security, like SSL encryption, Captcha codes which are very efficient against bots and also passwords that can help you protect your forms even better.

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