Last week I released a piece about the Two Birds One Stone method of hacking a busy schedule or to do list.
Finding hacks like that is necessary for the productivity output of the modern entrepreneur or family man or woman.
Inversely, when we slow down, and even stop, sometimes we gain valuable perspective and inner-reflection that we would otherwise miss. It’s important to stop and smell the roses.
Let’s explore this concept by taking a look at two friends. Both value their families greatly, both are hard-working, possibly even workaholics, and both are skilled and successful at their specialties.
The first friend reminds me a lot of me. Either his off button is broken or it doesn’t exist. He is in a state of constant motion from the time this friend wakes up early in the day, until the time he is ready for bed in the late hours of the night. His way of life is GO, GO, GO!
There are only small windows of time that friend #1 takes breaks. He regularly prepares and shares a meal with his wife, and occasionally goes on nature hikes where there’s purposefully no cellular reception, but never for more than a day. Other than those this friend works non-stop on his business ventures.
This friend has lofty business development and financial targets for himself and his company. He believes his efforts alone dictate the inevitability and eventuality of his success.
Friend #1 is a master at what he does to generate income, as well as achieving in the other metrics he uses to define his success. However, his pace and tempo come at a great cost. His health is deteriorating. He is finding himself getting sick and becoming physically weaker too often.
I believe this friend recognizes that his tenacity is a root cause for his health issues. Yet he is unable to step off the hamster wheel and slow down for long enough to recover. Undoubtedly his bank account grows, but so does his aches and pains.
Watching this friend cut through life’s weeds is impressive in many ways. Effort like his is truly inspiring. It makes me realize how much more I could accomplish if I took less breaks for my health or sanity. I also see that he is missing out on many opportunities for experiences and relationships.
My second friend is another story.
Friend #2 is currently going through intense, unforeseen life changes. I won’t go into the specifics, but his personal life is getting flipped completely on its axis.
The transition he is encountering has a tendency of being debilitating and traumatic for most who experience it. Not this fella.
Instead of seeing his situation as a setback, he chooses to see the glass as at least half-full. It’s a tremendously better alternative to allowing himself to become just another victim.
This second friend has his receptors for inner-reflection turned way up high. Doing this has allowed him some incredible insights on some of the things he failed to address before his transition.
One of his insights is that he must slow down and wait for things to come to him. This is the opposite of his normal approach of rushing and trying to force things to come.
Additionally, my friend is saying yes more often to novel and unusual experiences. He is currently planning a social outing where he and a few friends will attempt to summit two fourteeners¹ in the same day. Just yesterday he attended a cultural festival where he witnessed much he hadn’t seen before. He networked in this unusual and different community and had a great time doing it.
Finally, the best insight friend #2 shared was in regards to how he has begun to engage with his children. Like me, this friend struggles with frustration, anger, a limited level of patience in dealing with his beloved offspring.
My second friend recognizes the necessity of modeling the way for his young ones through his attitude, actions, and interactions so they can grow to become good people. He also realizes the need to slow himself down and stop to connect with his kids.
He spoke of stopping in the middle of doing a chore or task he is engaged in when his children are trying to connect with him. When the young ones try to share something they are interested in he is able to just be present. He doesn’t necessarily need to do or say anything. Just standing there and being with his kids while they engage and learn is sufficient. What an incredible epiphany. I couldn’t help but consider how opposing this way of being was from much of what I wrote in Two Birds.
The second friend just received a raise and promotion at his job, with a reduction in managerial responsibilities. The first friend is currently trying to determine what is causing his chronic pains and inflammation in his joints. I can’t judge my first friend. Neither can I help but recall my former self, and the destructive downward spiral that the quest for money and success became in my own life.
Relationships and experiences matter so much more than the hours, weeks, and years we spend prisoners in our own minds and routines. No matter how much success and money we earn, it will never be enough. That thirst can never be quenched. It is as if the end zone just moves further and further away the more we run towards it.
If we reevaluate what is truly important, then we can score on every possession. And even if we do not, each interaction and experience turn into a win.
Even without the extra zeros on a bank statement, or the public accolades, we’ll still feel like champions. All it takes is slowing down. Once we stop and smell the roses we may realize we’ve already won.
(¹A fourteener is a mountain that is at least 14,000 feet in height.)