A colleague arrived at work full of fury. Other drivers had cut in front of him all the way. When pressed as to why it mattered so much, he muttered, “They’ll get there before I do.”
A near fist-fight broke out in the express line at the grocery store. A customer in the ‘9 items or less line’ dared to show up with a dozen items in her basket, frustrating all six people lined up behind her.
New parents anxiously registered their infants for a future pre-school computer class – complete with specialized children’s software and giant sized computer mice. After all, if their youngsters didn’t get an early start on computer skills (say by the time they were three), they’d fall behind in the race for marketability and employment.
All three situations are drawn from real life experiences. All three speak to our preoccupation with speed and ‘progress’.
There are times when speed matters. If you are treating virulent cancer cells, challenging a speed record in an athletic competition, or faced with a fast changing marketplace, you don’t want to be wasting any time.
However, not every situation in life is a race. In fact, racing through some experiences can be counterproductive. What are the long term consequences of encouraging a child to compute before learning to crawl?
We get so carried away with the concept of speed that we are in danger of making best sellers out of titles like these: Holidays In Half The Time, Speed Sleeping For Busy Professionals, and The One Minute Lover.
Rev an engine at top speed constantly and it won’t take long to burn out the works. Our own internal systems and our organizations are not that different. We are sustained and renewed by changes in pace – charging flat out, winding down, idling, cooling our jets, gathering energy for the next big challenge.
We can change our experience and approach by changing our frame of reference. Suppose our speed demon colleague viewed the route to work as a dance floor rather than the Indy 500 speedway. Drivers cutting in and out become new partners. A cut from the left and a cut from the right is a do si do. Tail lights flash on the car ahead and you’ve just spotted a brake dancer. The trip takes the same length of time, but the experience is much more entertaining.
The next time you find yourself racing, ask yourself whether this is an experience that will be enhanced with speed? If not, slow down and enjoy the experience of life itself.
© Patricia Katz MCE CHRP of Optimus Consulting is a speaker, author and consultant who helps individuals and organizations restore the rhythm of renewal to work and life. To bring Patricia’s expertise to your organization, contact her at www.patkatz.com or toll free at (877) 728-5289.