When Bill Gates was in the sixth grade, his parents decided he needed counseling. He was at war with his mother, Mary, who would often find him locked up in his basement bedroom.
Exasperated with no response from Bill one day, she asked him what he was doing through the intercom.
“I’m thinking,” he shouted back.
“Yes, Mom, I’m thinking,” he said fiercely. “Have you ever tried thinking?”
I was feeling weary last evening as I looked ahead at a weekend full of activity. And, I was lucky to have one of those long discussions (the sort that seems to yield more insight the more you think about it) with a couple of close friends last night. And, at a point in this discussion, this anecdote about Gates surfaced. Aside from marveling at the fact that Gates “got” this concept in his sixth grade, I realized that that was exactly what I needed to do. I had been in a perpetual state of motion this entire week and it was time to stop. And, so I did.
And, after 15 hours of time largely spent either asleep or in thought, it is incredible what the effect is on the other end. I have more clarity, renewed purpose, more direction and a lot more energy.
Many of us spend large parts of our live running away from thought. A state of perpetual motion is easier and a complete lack of activity is easiest. Yet, activity only becomes productivity when we make progress towards a purpose. There is no point optimizing small parts of our life if they aren’t helping the main thing.
It takes a commitment to regular reflection and thought to keep the main thing the main thing. And, I’d echo Stephen Covey’s prescient quote – the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.