Your Sorting Hat

When new students of witchcraft arrive at Hogwarts in Harry Potter, they are assigned to one of the four houses of the school. The chief selection officer? The Sorting Hat. Placed on a person’s head, the Sorting Hat comes to life. It is a confident, talkative, opinionated being – but it is rarely wrong.

Beyond its assignment duties, however, the hat makes several appearances at critical points throughout the series. In one instance, it presents himself to Harry as he is trying to fend off a basilisk, a deadly, snake-like creature that turns whoever looks at it to stone. In a magic trick as proverbial as it gets, Harry manages to pull a famed sword out of the hat and beat the creature with it.

How handy would that be? A magical hat from which to pull whatever you need to deal with any situation. Well, if you ask Eckhart Tolle, you’re wearing that hat already. In The Power of Now, he writes: “You can always cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future – nor do you have to. The answer, the strength, the right action or the resource will be there when you need it, not before, not after.”

If you reduce whatever daunting, impossible-seeming challenge you might face to “right now,” it becomes incredibly small. Definitely small enough to be manageable.

Do you have to pay back $100,000 in debt? How about right now? Oh, you’re sitting at breakfast? Well, I’m sure you can handle that. One step at a time. And whenever the next repayment is due, I’m sure you’ll find a way to survive that day too.

Whether you’re trying to write a book, juggle family responsibilities, or run a 100,000-person organization, if you go back to what is needed right now, you’ll see it’s never the challenge as a whole. The challenge as a whole doesn’t exist – nor need its weight on your shoulders – for even Stephen King, a stressed dad, and Google’s CEO live their lives one day at a time, one page, diaper, and email after the other.

You already have everything you’ll ever need. Your best source of confidence, creativity, and accurate snap judgments is already inside. Or should I say on top? Your Sorting Hat is always on your head. Whatever you need to deal with the now, all you have to do is pull it out.