Last, I read the book “Momo” written by Michael Ende. It is a kind of fantasy story for children [ for an old child like me also ] in which I found a lot of secrets for being happy and successful in the life.
In one the pages, The garbageman Beppo is talking to Momo about his job.
“You see, Momo,’ he [Beppo Roadsweeper] told her one day, ‘it’s like this. Sometimes, when you have a very long street ahead of you, you think how terribly long it is and feel sure you’ll never get it swept.’
He gazed silently into space before continuing. ‘And then you start to hurry,’ he went on. ‘You work faster and faster, and every time you look up there seems to be just as much left to sweep as before, and you try even harder, and you panic, and in the end you’re out of breath and have to stop – and still the street stretches away in front of you. That’s not the way to do it.’
He pondered a while. Then he said, ‘You must never think of the whole street at once, understand? You must only concentrate on the next step, the next breath, the next stroke of the broom, and the next, and the next. Nothing else.’
Again he paused for thought before adding, ‘That way you enjoy your work, which is important because then you make a good job of it. And that’s how it ought to be.’
There was another long silence. At last, he went on, ‘And all at once, before you know it, you find you’ve swept the whole street clean, bit by bit. What’s more, you aren’t out of breath.’ He nodded to himself. ‘That’s important, too,’ he concluded.“
As it is mentioned in the story, we mostly think the difficulties instead of the flow whenever we start a project, a task or a duty. I’m not against the planning, but the mood mentioned here is totally different. It makes us feel bored and unwilling that recently results in a sloppy job.
The advice of Beppo – The next Step next Breath next Stroke of Broom is also similar to the Kaizen principle – One Step at a Time. It helps us getting the flow of the action which is a related to awareness, intense concentration without an effort. I mostly see that we are in actions without the flow and it affects the quality of the work.
It is also the result for us not be happy. Maybe when we don’t get the feeling of the flow, we can not be satisfied. I remember whenever I lost the feeling how many hours passed while working on a task, I did a very quality job and felt very satisfied.
So, as Beppo said we should not hurry up and only think the next step, next breath and next stroke of the broom.
Also published on Medium.