I am not sure my parents really prepared me for all the curveballs that life has thrown at me starting at an early age. In some ways the curveballs have made me incredibly agile to which way to swing, when to duck, and when to let the ball pass right by me. That does not mean that all that movement and reaction is not exhausting, and it also does not mean that I have always reacted, or presented myself in the best of ways. I have high standards and expectations at work and in my personal life. Maybe my dad overly ingrained in my head: “Do it right the first time.” Now to me that does not mean only try once and get it right the first time. What it means in my mind is give it your all and keep at it until you get to where you are going.
“We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can control how we react to it. As we do, maybe we come closer to a meaningful life than any plan could ever take us. To do this, though, we have to let go of what we think we deserve and embrace what is, which just might lead to something better than we could have imagined.” Page xxvii
The part I love about the above quote is about letting go and letting ourselves be lead to something better than we could have imagined. While I have high standards I also have witnessed how taking a step back and listening to intuition allows for life to sometimes fall into place.
I will give you a tiny morsel from my day on Monday. All morning things kept changing — meetings moved, deadlines shifted, and when I tried to unravel it all it was just horribly frustrating and time-consuming. I kept (as often happens) getting pulled into other things and dealing with requests and the thought that came to me during it all was: ‘Let it go. you will figure it out later… as messed up as it all happens to feel right now.’ Later in the day when I had a moment to look at the mess, each conflict and deadline had actually all moved again and all the things I would have had to unravel were put in a place that worked out. I did not have to do anything other than respond to a few emails and accept moved meetings. No rearranging needed. Now — that does not mean that I think you should procrastinate or that my morsel of happenstance from Monday will occur all the time. What I honed in on from Monday is that I listened to my intuition to let it go for that time and it all worked out.
That is just a small moment in time. Think about what can happen if we let go more often, for the small and the large events in life, and let things naturally be designed in front of us. Somehow the universe has a way of bringing color, hope, and a graceful design that often surpasses what we can imagine for ourselves.
Lately I have been thinking about the idea of asking another person for their full attention. How many times do you go into someone’s office and they do not give you their undivided attention? They might for a few minutes and then maybe they get distracted by their phone or computer and you wonder, is my meeting important to them? On the flip side, I also wonder if I give everyone my full and undivided attention? Are we all in the end just the same? Someone does not give us their attention and we in turn do that to someone else?
What would it look like if we were direct and transparent with everyone about our attention? What if we confronted others when we were not getting what we deserved? What would that look like? Would it mean that we actually called someone out when they stopped focusing on the conversation, tuned out, or got distracted? I am actually getting excited thinking about it. I would love if someone did that to me and held me accountable for when I was getting distracted. In turn I hope I would do that for others that do it to me.
Are our phones and computers, the emails, texts, and whatever other notifications really more important than the person that sits right in front of us? Sometimes they are. Sometimes emergencies happen or are boss alerts us to an urgent need, but many times we get bored, or clearly are easily distracted. I am not exempt from this — I need to focus on where my attention is just the same. Chris and I were just talking about it last night. There are times where I am doing too many things at once and my nature to multi-task means I might miss things along the way. However, in the same conversation we discussed that he had not given the needs of the conversation his clear attention. What he was thinking might not have been what he actually shared aloud and due to the lack of information there were key details that I needed that never got shared.
Our full attention is important in so many interactions. At the deepest level it shows that we care, and that the other person matters. I would say I do give a lot of my life my full attention, but I can see some clear areas that I could work on. Try it. See where you are not giving your full attention. Put your phone down, quit texting, and leave the emails. Be present for the other person, they deserve it.