Reflection: Have you ever walked alongside someone whose stride was much longer or shorter than yours? Have you ever partnered on a project with someone whose pace was entirely mismatched to yours? They moved, spoke and concluded everything in a flash – or they ambled, pondered, and decided waaaay toooo sloooowly for your comfort?
If you have, chances are that you know first hand the frustration of trying to keep up or the irritation of needing to slow down.
Our set points vary one from another; and they may shift over time. Life experiences can temper our choices along the way. If we’re paying attention, through trial and error, we learn when we need to give a person or an issue more room, and when the time is ripe to urge to action.
In any given situation or relationship, the ‘right’ pace energizes, while the ‘wrong’ pace exhausts. And, of course, it’s all terribly subjective and situation specific.
When lives are on the line (think fire or medical emergency), a fast paced response is essential. But not everything we face falls in that urgent category – even though much is presented that way.
There’s a leadership style known as ‘Pacesetting’ that invigorates some and frustrates others. Pacesetters are notorious for setting very high performance standards and modeling them for others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – except that pacesetters tend to be obsessively high on expectations and perilously low on empathy. Without empathy, this kind of leadership may not even register – much less respond to – the stress that others experience along the way.
Action: So, how do you put these ideas about pace to work? Start by calibrating your own pace preference, so you have a sense of how it serves you, where it’s a strong fit with the needs of a certain workplace or community, and what kind of impact it has on others.
Pause to tune in your body signals and your patterns of thought. Does your body plead for a rest, while you dutifully, but not willingly, suit up for a marathon? Does your mind drift away in frustration as the discussion moves at a snail’s pace, while you’re chomping at the bit like the proverbial racehorse at the gate? They may be trying to tell you something.
Signals from others will help you get a read on the impact of your pace preferences on them. Are they gasping for breath as you proclaim an arduous assault on yet another enormous project fast on the heels of the last one? Are they rolling their eyes at what they perceive to be another ‘take your time’ delay? They could be trying to tell you something.
Make whatever adjustments are necessary and possible to make peace with your set point pace. Try to put yourself in situations where your pace is a decent match to the circumstances and the people you serve – not just in the short term – but over the long haul, too. It will be easier for all concerned.
Quotes Of The Week: Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. – Henry David Thoreau
Quiet minds can’t be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. – Robert Louis Stevenson
We are caught up in a pace of social and technological change that makes our work, business, and education sources of anxiety and unfulfillment. At the same time, thinking about our thinking and observing our observations can bring us a new world in which work becomes a place for innovation, and in which peace, wisdom, friendship, companionship, and community can exist. Let us design this world together. – Fernando Flores
Resource Of The Week: To learn more about the impact of the Pacesetting Leadership Style see this article by Christian Haller.
Readers Write: In response to my most recent message, Keeping The Grunt Work From Grinding You Down, Pause reader TS writes: As a gardener on an acreage, the idea of stopping to pause for the reward at the end of the grunt work is a great reminder for me. However, the greater value that I will take from this post is a lesson for the mother of a two year old! It’s easy to get bogged down in the grunt work of diapers and dirty dishes. While reading this lesson, I had a flashback to kisses and hugs that were not always as appreciated as they should have been, due to the call of grunt work. There is joy in the midst of the labor, too. I need to remember to celebrate ALL of the stages and the mini moments as well as the end goal of the happy, healthy, well-rounded child / teen / adult. It’s a lesson I needed this week. Thank you.