I imagine there are two types of mother birds. The one will teach her little chick how to fly, show it over and over how to flap its wings and move its tail, watch it practice and then coach it to get more confidence, encourage it when it tries – a mother who sets an example and with patience and encouragement watches her chick grow and eventually learn to fly in its own time. The other type of mother bird will start out the same way, but at some point, one day when her chick is peeking over the edge of the branch, hesitating, she pushes it off. I am definitely the second mother bird – not specifically with my daughter, but rather with everything in my life. Sure I’ll jump off the branch and as my chick starts frantically flapping, I’ll be there at any moment to save it, but I battle to sit things out and watch things move at a pace different than I expect it to.
A couple of examples to shed some light. We’re shifting focus in my team to do things better at work. It does mean there is a bit of a lull in the workload and our focus is not quite pointing to a specific concrete direction or vision. This irritates the living daylights out of me. I’m happiest when we have a deadline, everyone has a deliverable and we all know what we’re working towards. Look at my sport – I am always so focused on an outcome, a placing in a race or a fitness level or goal, that I completely miss loving just riding my bike. It became absolutely clear to me again yesterday when we dropped Cass off for her first band practice at Dainfern College. When we arrived she sat in the car, with no intention of getting out of the car to start looking for the people she needs to meet. It is not that she didn’t find out where they were, she did, and they were still on their way. If it were me I would be outside the car with a message of ‘look for the girl with the white sweater next to the white polo’. She got the same result in a different way eventually. And THAT is my biggest irritation – it is not my way. Let me clarify more though – once the end result is achieved it doesn’t bother me that the route there was different. It is that while we’re on the path I don’t have the patience to let things happen at their own pace, I am always looking to speed up the pace and force the end result to happen.
Until I made up in my mind this week that being without direction at work is ok for now, I was irritated and barking at people. I have to bite my lip extremely hard at work when I overhear people talking and I think they are wasting time or know that I can get a result quicker. I need to give them their space to do it their way. Same for Leon and Cass. They cook differently to what I do, flip through channels differently, pack the dishwasher differently. I need to let things be.
I believe I can learn how to do this, although some days it drives me up a wall. I commit to learn how to do this – by being curious about how people achieve results differently. And being curious about how I can be patient at the same time. There is one more thing harder than that though. Letting myself be.
I get irritated with myself even worse than with other people. I know what it takes to be fit, strong, aware, intelligent, a leader, a wife, a mom. But I have in my head a belief that I need to do things or be these things right now, all the time. Problem is that most of the time it is part of a process and long-term one at it. Because being any of above qualities is not something that happens over night, or something that is static, when something happens that shows a crack in one of theses qualities I feel like a failure, I get demotivated, I feel fat and ugly, I battle to get out of bed, I get irritated. Last one of those is the worst because then people around me suffer my mood. Instead I should be thinking, ‘that’s interesting, what can I do with this?’. I am also coming to a point where I believe that this is the cause of my headaches. My inability to let myself just be, let go, just live. If I had to spend most of my day in a car yesterday taking Cass from one place to the next, not being productive and not feeling like I’ve achieved anything – I should stop hanging on to what I believe productivity is. What could I learn from today? How can I let things be, and still be happy?
I need to learn to let go of the outcome and live the process. Walk the path and smell the roses. Easier said than done…