Mourning doves are cooing to greet the red sun rising over the horizon of water that reflects the pink sky. My morning greeting is never the same, and it’s one I never tire of. The doves play their flutes, providing music as I sit in my Adirondack chair on the dock. 

If you’re new, my routine is to write from my soul each Sunday.

“You need to tell the world about Sunday Coffee. Why aren’t you marketing it more? After all, you’re a marketing guy,” said an acquaintance of mine who suggested I could grow Sunday Coffee much bigger by being promotional.

“I’m trying something different this time,” I said. “I’ve spent my whole life marketing things, and I decided that since this is very personal, I’m just gonna see what happens.”

I think he muttered something like “Fool!” under his breath, or at least it seemed he was thinking it.

Giving In to Growth

Now this might sound very unlike me, but I stopped keeping track of subscribers when I hit 150,000 a few years ago. I decided that I did not want to know anymore because my ego might get in the way, and that might change my intentions. I don’t write with the intent of growth.

I honestly don’t know how many people read this letter, or how many people forward it. I don’t want to know, because I just want it to be organic.

Angel Wings

Sometimes you have to allow something to be carried forward by the wings of angels and quit trying to control everything. Instead of effort, Sunday Coffee is a reversed effort. Have you ever heard of the Law of Reversed Effort?

The Master and His Student

A student approaches his martial arts teacher, asking, “How long will it take me to become a master in martial arts?”

The master replies that it will take 10 years.

Looking frustrated, the young student says, “I want to master martial arts faster than 10 years. So I’ll work harder than anyone else, and I’ll push myself to practice more hours every day. If I do that, how long will it take?

The master replies, “20 years.”

Don’t Try Harder

The Law of Reversed Effort was coined by author Aldous Huxley, who said, “The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed.”

Is this true? You decide. 

When you’re on deadline pushing to accomplish a creative task, you become less creative because of the pressure.

When you’re feeling the pressure to meet the perfect partner, you rarely find someone. Yet when you give up and stop trying so hard (as I did), the perfect mate falls in your lap.

When you try to force yourself to fall asleep, what happens? You stare at the ceiling for hours.

Sahil Bloom, who introduced me to this concept, says that top pro athletes call this the “85% rule.” A runner will try to run at 85% because it keeps her looser, more fluid, and it feels effortless. When she tries to run at 100%, her muscles tighten, she may cramp up, and it slows her down.

So instead of pushing everything, when you start focusing on balance, you can actually achieve more.

No one can sustain pushing hard all day every day, and when they try, they burn out and become less effective. 

Yet when you focus on balance, things flow better. You thrive. 

Go with the flow. Stop pushing.

A Ball of Stress

This week I was coaching an acquaintance who said she had not taken a vacation in several years, and was working all the time.

When I said, “How’s that working out for you?” she said, “I’m about to explode. I don’t know how much longer I can take it, but if I let go, things will fall apart.”

I asked her … “Have you ever flown a kite?” If you pull the string too much and too often, the kite dives and crashes. If you hold it too loosely, it loses control. The key to kite flying is perfect balance. It turns out that is the key to everything, including work.

I then told her about my billionaire friend who takes 26 weeks a year to spend on his yacht. He once told me he became a billionaire because he took time off for thinking and relaxing. During that time he does not check e-mail, does not take business calls, and even stays off social media. He said his company creates such high pressure that if he did it all day every day, he would explode. 

Though it’s counterintuitive, my ball-of-stress friend will find herself more productive if she takes more time off. 

Let Go

We have to be willing to let go and stay balanced.

Ever heard “Less is more”? How about  “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”?

“When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink. When you try to sink, you float.” — Aldous Huxley

Ease over struggle.

Huxley also said, “In all activities in life, the secret of efficiency lies in an ability to combine two seemingly incompatible states: a state of maximum activity and a state of maximum relaxation.”

Have you heard of people working themselves to death? Have you encountered people who worked so hard that their health suffered? Things go better with balance.

Pushing Too Hard

For years I pushed to get a project accomplished, but doors kept slamming in my face. I decided to let go and see what comes to me. No effort isn’t the answer, but expecting a result but not pushing for it constantly might be the right middle ground. I assume the right answer will flow into my arms soon.

Hot Driving

Years ago, a friend borrowed my Porsche for a weekend. It broke down. When it was towed to my mechanic, he said, “Your friend must have driven this car for over two hours at over 100 mph. The engine isn’t built for that. It destroyed the engine.” 

It cost me thousands to repair. 

How would your life be if you stopped pushing so hard? 

How would your relationships improve if you stopped pushing so hard because you care so much?

What if letting up made you more effective?

Take your foot off the gas once in a while and let your momentum take over. When doors keep closing on you, take the hint and stop trying to force things to happen. 

Pressure and hard driving isn’t always the answer.

Eric Rhoads

PS: A golf pro once told me I was swinging too hard. I used to line up to the ball and hit it as hard as I could. “Lighten up. Don’t hit so hard, just align the club with the ball.” Suddenly, without the force, and with ease,  I made my best drive ever.

I’ve banged my head against the wall far too many times. When learning to paint, I put myself under tremendous pressure, working really hard. But I was not getting better. When I finally stopped caring so much, things improved. 

Speaking of painting….

I do this event in May every year where we gather artists together to learn and paint. I take over a giant hotel or conference center, set up five stages, and this year I have over 70 top artists as my instructors and coaches. It’s great for beginners or experienced pros. And we all paint together every afternoon. This year, we’re holding it right outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want to attend the Plein Air Convention, this would be the year. See you there … or not. I’m not gonna push.