Tableau State of Mind: Being Zen-Ish

I had a zen garden in my backyard. This garden did not bring me peace, it did not connect me with my surroundings, nor did it free me of distractions. This zen garden did nothing but increase my fear of spiders and hatred of weeds. Luckily for me, we sold this house…

hopefully someone else will find some peace with this zen garden.


Recently Tableau’s Sophie Sparks wrote some words about The Blank-Canvas Blues, and it had me thinking the exact opposite. Tableau is a piece of software which, oddly as it sounds, provides me with many of the elements of zen and the blank canvas is a key ingredient. I’m still not sure why these thoughts came together, but I decided to look up the elements of zen and relate them to my relationship with Tableau.

What is Zen?

Zen is more of an attitude than a belief

Never believe a data visualization project can be done in Tableau, know it can. Never approach a new Tableau project with a negative attitude.

Zen is the peace that comes from being one with an entity other than yourself

The moment of understanding: what Tableau is doing, why it is doing it, and how it can be forced to follow one’s will. When at that point, the software will no longer frustrate, and good things will happen.

Zen means being aware of your oneness with the world and everything in it

Oneness with the world doesn’t apply, but there are times where one can feel that Tableau is just an extension of their brain. All of the data architecture, configuration, and design come together exactly to plan.

Zen means living in the present and experiencing reality fully

Past failures with Tableau are irrelevant. Whatever the current task, it is new, and will present a new challenges and successes. Do not dwell on the unsuccessful projects, make this one successful.

Zen means being free of the distractions and illusory conflicts of the material world

Similar to people who “lose themselves” in music, listening to the perfect song that blocks out the world. Certainly some who read this can relate that feeling to being “in the zone” with Tableau.

Zen means being in the flow of the universe

Similar to the last point… being free of distraction and “in the zone” with Tableau means having flow to one’s work. With a meticulous and almost methodical process, things come together quickly and easily.

Zen means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself

Full circle back to the blank canvas. Do not fear the blank canvas, be happy that is exists. If the blank canvas wasn’t there, then Tableau isn’t either.

Do you know someone who you think should be a Tableau Zen Master for 2016–17? Nominate them here:

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