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who’s doing the doing? and why do we try so hard to take control?

Who is doing the doing?

If you’d asked me a few years ago who was doing the doing, I’d have said “me”. No doubt about it. It looked, for a long time, like I was in control.

Maybe not completely, of course, there are other people and circumstances outside my immediate control, but it probably would have looked as if “I” had to switch on the engine, point the car and start driving.

Then I realised that things continue to happen, better things even, when I take my hand off the steering wheel.

I’d always had a sense of this but sometimes it looked like prevarication, and that was uncomfortable.

I should just decide!

Looked like a better option.

Turned out that isn’t the case, though. It’s amazing how different that looks to me now. How much easier it is in every single aspect of my life to know that I’ll always know what to do.

The idea of ‘doing without doing’ doesn’t mean I don’t do anything; it doesn’t mean I sit around and wait for inspiration.

It just means that I know that I can get in the car and the set the GPS — whether or not I know where to go before I get in the car.

I’ve had such a nice day and I thought I was going to spend all day cleaning,

my husband said last night.

The ‘plan’ had been for me to go and see youngest son at his university to help him with some forms relating to his study abroad year, and maybe go and see a movie or get something to eat.

The ‘plan’ was to leave the dog at home with hubby.

At some point before we left, son was disappointed about not seeing the dog so we ‘decided’ (well, did we? or did it just happen without thinking? More of the latter I think!) to just all get in the car and see how the day went.

And it was great, we had a gorgeous walk with the dog, afternoon tea and then we exhausted the poor dog walking around my son’s university town taking it easy and deciding where and what to eat.

Even that was easy. Despite the restrictions of having a dog and a fussy teenager, we wandered until something occurred to us, found that place closed, wandered some more and ended up sitting in a central spot people-watching and joking about girls and students and food and friends. Just ‘being’.

I know it’s easy to say, yes well, it’s the weekend, of course you can do what you want, work is different.

I ask you,

Is it though?

We think it is — I remember a time when I felt it was on me to do a good job, on me to deliver results, on me to ‘perform’.

Decisions don’t need to be ‘made’

In a world where doing without doing is my way of being, I do (mainly) what occurs to me. If it occurs to me, to us as a family, to make a plan for next year (we’re currently considering an overseas move) then we will.

I can research and gather information, and not feel like I need to make a decision, now or in the future. The decision will make itself. My role is to stay present, to stay loving to everyone around me, and to feel into what feels like the right next step. We’ll move or we won’t, and we’ll be fine either way.

I don’t mean of course that there aren’t brain cells firing and actions being taken; it’s just that the conscious part of my brain has way less to do with what happens and how I feel about it than I used to think.

It’s like being on autopilot and enjoying the journey.

It’s hard to explain this without it sounding like I’m rudderless, drifting around, going nowhere.

It isn’t rudderless though, it’s the opposite.

I can go anywhere and do anything; I can set my GPS and enjoy the journey — knowing as deeply as it’s possible to know that there is nowhere to get to, yet going anyway.

And isn’t this what is really going on, when we stop and look deeply at what life’s for?

It might look and feel as if you have a direction, but do you really? When we’re in the thick of something it feels like it’s our everything, like achieving what we’ve set our sights on brings meaning to what we do.

But the meaning isn’t in where we’re going, it’s in the fact of doing.

It might have taken me a while to see it that way, but that’s just made arriving here all the more special.

With love,



About the author

Cathy Presland is an expert in personal and professional leadership and an advanced transformative coach. She has more than two decades of experience in government and international organisations and her focus as a coach is to support individuals and organisations to improve their leadership and effectiveness, in a way that removes and reduces the need for tactics and techniques.

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