Slow down to speed up

Years ago, in a job that was so deadline driven I often drove pell-mell to Fedex at the airport to beat the deadline by a minute or so, a friend and coworker looked at me and said, “sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. ” I didn’t think I would make the last plane, and was absolutely panicked as we tried to pack the project up. Her point was that packing it incorrectly would accomplish nothing. She was totally right, and I have fallen back on that expression many times over the ensuing years. Thanks Rachael!

In my current role, I returned to the space where I found one of my great life passions (at my old job) this week. I vividly remember learning in that space and being on fire with excitement. I felt like I talked too much, like I was too loud and taking up too much space and energy in the room. And yet, what they were sharing blew my mind. I stole another friends’ expression: “pardon my passion!” Thanks Debbie! I really couldn’t help myself. They ended up inviting me to come train as a facilitator. Sometimes too much passion is just enough.

I remember working in the same space as a facilitator and part of the Innovation “dream team”. It was some of the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and I loved being part of the team and seeing so many people catch on in that space. I love the follow-up conversations outside of that space, and seeing people become brave as they realized how good their ideas were.

In my 20s, I became confident in my cognitive abilities, and started to trust myself and my opinions. By the end of the decade, I also started to realize how important it is to listen to others. The two are not as contradictory as they sound. I hit my 30s and started to realize that whether or not I was listening to others didn’t matter if they didn’t feel like I was listening to them. The eye of the beholder is very powerful, both for and against the other person. I’m working on it. A lot.

As I sat in that familiar space as part of my current team at an organization that I love inordinately, I again found myself talking too much and being too excited. I love hearing what lots of people say and then putting it into words that can be used to lead others. But that wasn’t my job, and everyone in the room had so much to impart. But now, I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m too loud/much in a specific context. Everyone’s passionate and has something to say.

Believe it or not, I find most major takeaways at work or at home have a direct corollary to the other venue. No surprise that this one does too. Dave and I learned early in our marriage that we cannot read each other’s minds, no matter how much we love each other. The same now goes for our kids. If one of them has something important to tell us that they’re passionate about, we drop everything and listen. It may be a brief moment when we put down the spoon while making dinner and look into their eyes, before going back to stirring the pot. It may be such an important topic that we drop everything and have a meaningful conversation. One way or the other, kids have big feels too.

Right now, that means conversations about Elise going away “forever”. And what it means to welcome someone, especially when – as in this case – welcoming someone means saying goodbye to someone else. How do we fit in deep, emotional conversations for adults and kids around work, meal time, and paperwork?

Sometimes life gets so busy it seems like slowing down would break the machine. The more times I come across that sensation, the easier it gets to jump off the merry-go-round. Very few things in life are so critical that they cannot be adjusted. So we stop the merry go round where we need to, and have those conversations. After all, we can’t successfully move forward without them. In this context as well, we need all of our passion and energy to make sure we move forward as a single unit.

A lot happened this week! We celebrated Elise’s birthday, had her goodbye party, welcome to our new Au Pair Marion and said goodbye to a neighbor Au Pair named Pamela who has also been a big part of this year. We started easing the kids into their next chapter at home, while all of the adults in the house got to know each other a little bit better. We had family dinner and never quite caught up on sleep.

This month is going to be wild from beginning to end, but we have to take our moment so we can successfully get through everything we have planned. Sunday that meant a three hour nap for Dave. Last night, it meant collapsing into bed the minute we walked into the house after dinner. Despite rooms to clean, laundry to do, and meal plans much more disorganized than we like them, making Marion feel welcome and starting to build a relationship between her and the kids and us is top priority right now.

Taking the time to do that, and choosing what to let go of so that we have the time to do it well, is what differentiates our 30s and 40s from our 20s. As Dave approaches his next decade, we will keep that in mind as we look forward to our next chapter of learning.