Over the past twenty years, I read countless books on how to work on different aspects of my life: health, nutrition, fitness, mental wellbeing, pursuing personal goals, and finding equanimity and spirituality. It's easy to get lost on a quest for personal growth and become addicted to what I call personal development porn. It's somehow satisfying to look at it, read about it, and listen to podcasts about it, but it's not the real thing.
For the past twenty years, I have liked to think of myself as a seeker, constantly looking for that additional nugget of wisdom that will help me lead a healthier, more balanced, more loving and fulfilled life, which are all great aspirations. And discovering new things is exciting! The feeling that the key to unlocking my true potential may be found in that next book, article, or seminar made the seeker in me kick into overdrive. And then, I came across the following quote in Brad Stulberg's book "The Practice of Groundedness", where he encourages readers to "shift from being a seeker to a practitioner."
This idea stuck with me. I asked myself what will be the key to successful growth and transformation, the seeking or the practicing part? What will have a more profound impact, constantly looking for the latest and most effective meditation app or simply sitting down on a cushion for ten minutes every day and concentrating on my breath? No app required. No guidance needed. Nothing. Think about it, if you come across people who appear firmly grounded, who seem content and have clarity about their place in life, do they appear to be constantly seeking something? It often looks like the exact opposite. More as if they have actually found something. Something they live by, be it consciously or unconsciously. Something they practice.
To make a drastic example, take monks living in a monastery. It's not like they can't wait to get the latest issue of Buddhism Today Magazine delivered to their doorstep to read about the latest meditation trends ("Revealed: Five Hot New Ways to Turbo Charge Your Mindfulness"). Or that they are eagerly waiting for this year's fall edition of holy commandments, which are even more divine and effective than previous compilations. Instead, they are steeped in practice, which often hasn't changed for decades and centuries.
As a seeker, I'm collecting and assessing interesting approaches, ancient and novel ideas, techniques, and technology that all promise to improve my life. And I do not doubt that many will. That is, if I practice them with diligence. Therein lies the key. Without practice, however, they will all be worthless.
So, is the seeking part a waste of time? I don't think so. First, we need to seek to find. And I believe I will always consider myself a seeker. I appreciate the value of curiosity as a strong positive force. And as a naturally curious person, living out my seeker part scratches that itch. But I also know that what I'm aspiring to won't be found through seeking alone but may eventually reveal itself in practice. It's not about abandoning our seeking altogether but starting to trust in and focus on our practice.
Coaching can be helpful in consciously transitioning from seeker to practitioner. To work with someone who will hold you accountable and help you practice in harmony with your values and in support of your aspirations can be powerful. The same applies to developing my own coaching practice. If I'm embarking on an endless search for the most powerful and exciting coaching tools, I'm ignoring the importance of practicing the tools I have and will ultimately do a disservice to my coaching partners.
How does it look for you? What do you spend more effort and energy on, seeking or practising? Maybe it's time to recalibrate your focus.