“Oh, Won’t You Stay…” – The IMMERSE Principle
STAY...JUST A LITTLE BIT LONGER
If you’re a child of the 70s, you’ll probably remember one of Jackson Browne’s hit songs, “Stay.“ If you’re older, you may recall listening to the songwriter himself, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, sing the song in the 60s. In 1987, “Stay” appeared on the movie soundtrack of Dirty Dancing. In 1995, the British dance-pop group, Dreamhouse, came out with a very cool Jamaican version of the song, and in 2003 Cindy Lauper covered the tune in her own unique style.
For a Billboard #1 hit song that times in at just 1 minute, 37 seconds, “Stay” has clearly had staying power.
The concept to stay, “just a little bit longer” as the lyric says, seems dissonant to our current social rhythm of "digital flitting." We schedule back-to-back Zoom meetings for business, and even for family and friend visits. We jump off one call three minutes before we’re scheduled to jump onto another. And somehow, we manage to fit in a handful of texts or emails before turning on our Zoom camera for the next meeting.
Whenever we want to know something, we google it or ask Siri, which usually satisfies a quick curiosity or gets us through that “need to know” moment.
Albert Einstein, who had enormous staying power in his field, once said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Hmm. Know vs understand. You might be thinking, “Aren’t those pretty much the same thing?”
For the moment, let’s set aside the song from the sixties, and what a theoretical physicist says, and let’s dive into real life. I’ll start by sharing a little secret about myself—I love hummingbirds. Here’s what I know about them.
Hummingbirds are mini miracles. They're the only bird that can fly backwards—up, down, and sideways, for that matter. They might travel alone for 500 miles at a time. They don't have a sense of smell but can see color, which is why most hummingbird feeders are bright red. They can see farther than a human.
The hummingbird brain, which is smaller than a pea, makes up approximately 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom. Their hearts beat 1,260 times a minute. And they weigh less than a nickel. A flock of hummingbirds is called, quite appropriately, a charm. A flock can also be referred to by other charming terms, such as a bouquet, a glittering, a hover, a shimmer or a tune.
How do I know so much about hummingbirds? Simple. I was curious enough to google hummingbirds. In about five quick minutes, I created the fact list above. Boy, am I smart! “I should buy a hummingbird feeder,” I thought to myself. I asked a friend for a link to the hummingbird feeders she used.
Instead of “digital flitting,” and texting me a quick link, she said, “Come over and look at mine. And come at sunset.” I didn’t live far away. Still I felt a tad impatient with the idea of having to stop what I was doing and go to her house. I wanted to say, “Can't you just tell me what feeder to buy? Email me the link? I want to get started right away.” Instead, I was polite and went to her house.
When I arrived just before sunset, my friend showed me her feeders, then started covering each one with a cloth. She pointed to two chairs close by. I looked at my digital phone/watch, sighed, and realized I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So I put my phone away, sat down—and allowed myself to become curious. I asked about the coverings and she explained that without access to a big feeder, the little hummers would look for other options to feed from in the same area.
Next, my friend asked me to put my thumb and forefinger together to form an “OK” signal. Then inside my horizontal “OK” she placed a handheld hummingbird feeder that fit there perfectly. “She's done this before,” I thought.
“In just a minute,” she said, “hummingbirds will come and feed from the single feeder in your hand.” I didn't believe it for a second.
I held the feeder very still and waited. It didn't take long before an iridescent green hummingbird settled gently on my finger in front of the solo feeder. In a whispered voice, my friend explained that this type of hummingbird was friendly, gentle. Watching this magnificent tiny beauty drink in front of me, from the perch of my finger, I observed every detail of what she was saying. Then a “Red Baron” hummer dive-bombed my hand to shoo away the shy green one. “This one's a bully,” she said, as the red hummer forced its turn at the tiny trough.
In that moment, my senses were happy and alert—seeing the hummers land, feeling their delicate feet on my own finger, hearing the rapid flapping of their wings, which created the tiniest gusts of wind against my hand, and smelling the scent of sugar water in the air. Even the dive-bombing of the shy iridescent green beauty seemed like a dance—a pas de deux of Nature. I was deeply moved; no words could adequately describe that moment.
In a single sitting, my connection with hummingbirds went past knowledge. Now I understood hummingbirds. Not by reading about them—by experiencing them.
GET READY TO PLAY BALL!
I love comparing life to football, so let’s take a page from the game. A football player would never hit the field to play without suiting up with the right gear—shoulder pads, cleats, helmet, teeth guard, etc. That underlying protective gear connects them to the game. It gives them the protection they need to play safely, and it allows them to step into their role with confidence. It gives them a sense of belonging in that space and in that position.
There are other examples of immersion. Think about how actors prepare for their roles. By changing makeup and donning a costume, it’s easier for the actor to “get into character.” The actor might also study history for period pieces. A new job might require candidates to “shadow” someone whose shoes they hope to fill. Each is preparing to suit up and play ball on their own personal field.
WHEN DO YOU IMMERSE?
When should you exercise the IMMERSE principle? When you take a leap in life and find yourself in foreign territory, underwater, like you don’t belong. Or when you feel like there’s a wall between you and what you want. Immerse when you lack confidence and are unsure of how to move forward. Or when you think “Should I or shouldn’t I?”
Don’t be hard on yourself for not automatically knowing how to move forward toward your dream. If you feel an uncertainty or hesitation, it’s just because you’re not familiar with the territory. By immersing yourself, you get past that invisible wall. You begin to feel comfortable in your new setting.
When you immerse, you don't just learn what—you absorb how and why. You don't simply brush up against knowledge mentally—you absorb it physically.
That up close and personal perspective prepares you for your journey, shields your vulnerabilities, and aligns you more closely with your dream. It gives you a deeper and clearer sense of what you want and how you might get it.
HOW DO YOU IMMERSE?
How do you immerse? Be open. Be patient. Go where your heart leads you. Follow closely the path of your curiosities. And don't turn down offers from friends who have something exciting to share. By simply choosing to sit with my hummingbird friend for a few minutes, I got to see what she saw and learn what she knew.
If you want something, I encourage you to IMMERSE and, quoting the song lyric again, “stay a little bit longer” to find what you may not even be looking for.
Immersing into a field—a subject, an idea, or a project—may take time, but it will fill your bucket with more than knowledge. It will fill it with deep understanding.
So don't just read about it. Don't just research it. Experience some aspect of what you want. Be a student of life and feel the joy of learning. Take a field trip and absorb it. Find a mentor. Talk to an expert. Spend time with someone who has the experience you want, like my friend the hummingbird whisperer.
As I can attest from my time with the hummers, deep understanding will sharpen your awareness and take you beyond mere knowledge. It will develop a familiarity with your target focus, which will develop your instincts and intuition—and make you more decisive. It will create an “inner map” that will serve you well as you continue your journey.
(To see a video of me becoming a hummingbird whisperer, go to www.LipstickFootball.com/extras.)