An Excerpt from A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves

Although I wasn’t at all ready to hear it at first, I now resonate fully with what Ram Das (his real name was Richard Alpert) suggests: “There’s a way of surfing the silence, the outside silence… So why don’t you join me, and surf right into the deepest space within you, which is silent awareness.” I write down everything, from new ideas, to complaints I would never voice aloud about customers or coworkers (no, not about you!), to descriptions of the antique salt-and-pepper-shakers that are on display at the Roadhouse, or the great service work of someone new working the counter at the Bakehouse. Other times it’s about the weather, the way the wind is blowing, or the music that’s playing. It might be memories of my mother, frustrations over perceived failures, high hopes for a positive future. Sometimes it’s just a long string of swear words. When I don’t know what to write, sometimes I just run my mind through the exercise of noticing all the subtleties around me and inside my mind.

The point of it all is to see how I’m feeling before I enter the fray that we leaders live in most of the time. Journaling can help reverse the negative flow — it’s good for me to get the stress out of my head and into the world where I can work with it much more effectively. The process helps me keep any crabbiness that might have crept into my mind away from customers and coworkers where it can cause serious damage in a matter of seconds. To keep the momentum going in the right direction, I regularly push myself to find the positives when I write. I use journaling to train myself to think about things I haven’t appreciated of late — people, products, purveyors, even posters and art work. Two or three minutes of musing on the good things all around me is pretty much guaranteed to get me in a better mood! 

“When I don’t know what to write, sometimes I just run my mind through the exercise of noticing all the subtleties around me and inside my mind.”

Fortunately I’ve never had to go long stretches without journaling the way I did with the running when I had the piriformis syndrome. But I know reflective writing works because on the odd day that I miss it, my mind is notably off kilter. It’s so helpful to me that I will generally get up at an even earlier than early hour to do it if I know that time will be tight. Journaling each morning gives me a good runway to effectively take off for the day’s work. If I’m feeling frustrated, it’s good to know that beforehand so that I don’t get overly reactive. If I’m feeling low energy, I have time to figure out how to rev myself up before I get too far into the day. It does pretty much the same thing for my management performance as stretching before I run does for my muscles. Loosens me up, reduces the tension, brings a bit more resilience, improves performance and reduces end of the day pain. 

A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves is available at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore.