In the last six months I not only got hitched but, I lost my grandpa, moved cities, transitioned to a new faith community, moved into a new home, bought a new car, and almost landed a new position. It happened so fast and I’m still taking it all in… these life changes happen to us all. Sometimes you just keep on trucking. Other times, you can’t ignore the voice that tells you to stop and think about how all of these life changes affect you and those around you.
Looking back I feel a great sense of pride that we had so much going on and that we handled it. Then we got a visit from Bubba’s friend Matt. He told us that last month, he gave his notice at Booz, Allen, Hamilton, his wife sold her business, and they went into escrow on a house in Jersey. All in one week?!!?!!…and I thought our changes were fast.
Management guru Gary Hamel says that “we are the first generation in history that has to cope with an accelerated rate of change.” So how do I stay engaged with people and to the purpose when all this change is happening all around me? How do I keep up?
A few things that I am learning:
1) Take the time to think.
My action-oriented nature is to just go-go-go. In John C. Maxwell’s book, How Successful People Think he gives practical benefits on why and how we should exercise different types of thinking. As a founder of three companies, Maxwell is “always aware of the tension between [his] need to remain accessible to others as a leader and [his] need to withdraw from them to think.” “Walking slowly through the crowd allows me to connect with people and know their needs. Withdrawing from the crowd allows me to think of ways to add value to them.” That is impressive.
A leader in my company shared that once a quarter she goes to Four Seasons alone, reviews her goals over breakfast, and spends the day at the spa evaluating and refining priorities. Thank you Jennifer Pierson! With JP’s quarterly ritual in mind, I took some time after my six months of change to reflect. I focused on finding the meaning behind every activity I put my energy into. Because of that memorable day, I have decided to practice reflective thinking frequently.
2) Stay focused on the purpose.
I get frustrated when Bubba and I argue over things like what color rug would match our master bathroom. It is so difficult to buy the TJ Maxx rug instead of the Pottery Barn one. But I have to remember that our purpose for purchasing this house was to create a welcome respite for our friends and not for me to have a perfectly decorated house to show off. We often waffle about how much we should be saving versus spending on travel versus spending on house decorations.Putting me aside and sharpening my focus allowed us to make the best choice for our future. Easier written than done.
3) Involve others in your activities.
Although I naturally unplug from society to take care of us first, I have realized that life is much more interesting when shared with good friends. We were lucky to have our friend, Eric Reidt, as our realtor. Eric helped us seal the deal by advising us to write a personal letter to the owner describing who we are and why we want the house. (Their realtor said in 27 years of being in the business, he has never seen the seller write a letter back! – see letter below) The entire house buying experience was that much more memorable because of the relationships cultivated.
My recent changes at work gave me the courage to be open with my colleagues. Tim Rath, at Gallup says if you have two good friends at work, it will never feel like you have a bad job. I am fortunate to have four and I feel it when one of them is not there.
Life is so much more interesting when shared with good friends. Life is so much more meaningful when connections are made.
The car, the house, the job…it is all just a conduit to get to the bigger picture. Staying engaged with people is what makes life interesting, and change all the more welcome.