When do ideas become actions?

Posted by on June 27, 2008

A few weeks ago, I watched my sister-in-law, Beth, as she made peanut butter cookies. Her strong, capable hands dipped into the big bowl and emerged with a small mound of dough. These same hands rolled the dough into ball, picked out a small portion, rolled, added a little chunk of dough, then rolled the it again in the palm of her hand.

While she talked to her guests, laughed, told stories, these hands kept working, rolling, adjusting, giving, taking away, rolling again, creating tiny, perfect balls of cookie dough.

I looked at the others, all lined up and evenly spaced on the cookie sheet, each one the exact same size.

Beth has made a lot of cookies in her life – for her two daughters, her husband, for church functions and bazaars; now for her grand-daughters, as well. Like her husband, Roger, who taught me to fly-fish, her hands don’t need her mind to work. They just do what she’s trained them to do. If I asked her what she remembered about that particular day, she’d say the enjoyment of talking with family members. The routine of cookie-making was a relaxing background task.

I remember when I learned to run – it was so hard, so foreign…my body needed time to learn what I wanted it to do. A friend once remarked, “For the first 20 minutes, my body just screams at me, ‘Stop! What are you doing to me?’, then all of a sudden, it’s like it says, ‘Oh…I get it…this is what you want me to do.’ And then everything kicks into gear and feels great.” She nailed it. After the first 15-20 minutes, running found rhythm. Rhythm found release. Release found revelation. Running was what generated my best thinking. I set out to learn to run, but also learned to elevate my thoughts.

With new things, our body needs to get used to the action, to warm up to the idea – just like our minds. At a recent workshop, the facilitator said, “On average, we hear an idea six times before we remember or act upon it. Six times.”

I think far too often, we don’t give ourselves enough time to adjust to something new before we give up on it. Beth made a lot of cookies before she perfected the routine.

Pull out an idea, roll it around in your mind, add a bit to it, take a bit away, roll it about some more until it’s the perfect shape and size. Then act on it.

One Valued Thought on When do ideas become actions?

  1. Chris

    What a great metaphor for how we should assess and act out life. Gives a great visual too – those cookies look delicious!

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