A Mind Like Water


Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax. In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or under-react.

David Allen

 “Mind like water” is a valuable concept which provides for an optimum response and rapid relaxation from a given stimulus or situation. Its importance as a personal skill to be developed cannot be overstated. Achievement in any field, personal calm and productivity are significantly enhanced if this practise is deployed routinely and effectively.

It is a core principle of the Stoicism philosophy, which is enjoying a resurgence in terms of modern productivity and creative endeavours. It promotes a calm mental state of ‘relaxed control’.

Relaxed Control

Making an effort to build this mental approach into your daily life will bring huge benefits. There are the obvious and immediate advantages of lowering your stress levels at work. In response to workload, performance pressures and operating in fast-paced environments in a reactive manner.

But as a conscious approach to such disciplines as Decision Making and Cognitive Bias, making the effort to maintain a mind like water can be a very compelling and worthwhile concept on which to train yourself to an advanced level.

THE KEY INGREDIENTS of relaxed control are:

  1. Clearly defined outcomes (projects) and the next actions required to move them toward closure, and
  2. Reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly.

Although it may seem simple, the actual application of the process can create profound results.


Allen, D. (2015). Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Revised). Penguin Books.



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