I’ve been working on the concept of patience. A few days ago, my manager shared something that I’ve been thinking deeply about:
“Michelle, you are extremely fast, and almost everyone else will be slower than you. Within the first five minutes of the meeting, you understand the crux of the problem, you have a checklist, and you have thought of multiple solutions. You’re ready to start running. Your job is to be patient and let everyone else get there on their own. When you are always the problem-solver, people will either always rely on you for the answer or they may find you off-putting because you don’t allow them the space to come to the conclusion on their own. You want to lead organizations and people in the future. Part of this means that you need to shift your mindset over time to become an enabler instead of a problem-solver. You can’t expect someone else’s pace to change. It doesn’t mean that you need to slow down – you just need to manage your expectations and adjust to how everyone is. Everyone is who they are in the world, your sense of control can come from how you react: calm, clear, and flexible. If something isn’t solved immediately, the way you want, right now – how bad would it be? Ask yourself that to put things into perspective.”
You can probably glean that I’ve been on a huge reflective kick recently. I’m working on stretching my compassion, perspectives, passion, ambition, and openness to change.
I recently had the epiphany (everyone else probably knew this ages ago) that I am an extreme overachiever who loves to plan for as much as I can in my life. However, chaos is the only constant in my life and I have to embrace it by understanding that my sense of control can come from adjusting my responses to the unexpected. I live a calendared life. I’m always the one who plans the family holiday and the getaway with friends. I look ahead months in advance and order the college banner for the group photo at a college friend’s wedding. I write a detailed itinerary and reserve all the activities for everyone.
What about planning to leave room for the unplanned? Some of the best memories that I look back upon were unexpected, but they happened because I was open to the unknown. I remember the 2AM spontaneous drive to the Icelandic glaciers to see the Northern Lights on a nearly empty tank of fuel. There was the hilarious and thrilling horseback ride through the desert in Arizona at 7AM in the morning. How about the time when my Mom and I randomly paid a man in Santa Clara, Cuba to take us around the town in an old-school carriage? I think of when we decided to go rogue in Turks and Caicos and took the path less traveled to all the off-road beaches where we were the only souls in sight. I laugh when I think about my attempt to hike up Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills in my yellow, plastic Birkenstocks. My family ended up in Little Cranberry Isles, Maine with no electricity and a population of 141. There was my first taste of lavender ice cream and a cool river that I dipped my toes in when we pulled in to the town of Vaucluse, France. Two weeks from now, my family and I are heading to Cape Cod and Maine because I said: “Hey, why not? What are the odds that everyone in the family can take time off during my brother’s birthday? We’ve always wanted to go – why not now?” Many mornings and many nights, I have an intention for what lays ahead, but when I let go and enjoy being in the present, what actually happens often transcends my wildest expectations. Sometimes, the most beautiful things become apparent when you let go of your notions of what happiness is.
I’ve been using Headspace during the mornings, mid-day, or before I sleep and it’s been an incredibly helpful tool to help me reroute the thoughts swimming around in my brain. I have also been listening to Thich Nhat Hanh’s talks. Here’s one that he gave at Stanford University that I loved.
Have a beautiful day!
P.S.: It was a spontaneous decision to get on the plane to the Dominican Republic, where all these photos were taken. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go, but then I said: “Why not?” Few things are better for humans than sun, seaside, and good company.