I’ve always been a high energy, high octane individual. Whether it was in school or college or in my career, I was on my way to the top and the faster I got there the better as far as I was concerned. I would cut straight to the heart of the issue, get her done and move on to the next thing. If things got difficult it was ‘suck it up and solider on’.
That model delivers short term results but as I was to find out not only does it leave injuries in its wake, it’s not a sustainable model in the longer term. When you have your head down to power through not only do you miss some of life’s most amazing moments and people, you can end up running on empty in the wrong direction. When you stop to look up you are somewhere you didn’t want to be.
This was my story. I spent 20 years in marketing and commercial roles in large corporates and then a start-up, climbing higher, running faster, chasing a dream that I had inherited and acquired rather than created myself.
That’s when a coach introduced me to ‘relaxation techniques’ that enabled me to take a breath and to really look at the life I had created by default. I realized that I was, to quote Thich nhat Hanh, ‘running headlong through my life as though I were being chased’. Of course, nothing was chasing me other than the belief that ‘I will be happy when…..’. Insert whatever you will at the end of that sentence – get the job, make the promotion, have the house, lose 10 pounds etc.
Learning to slow down was a huge shift for me and changed how I live, work and coach. It allows me to make deliberate choices, consider what I really want and move forward to purpose and intention. Enabling clients to slow down creates the space to see more clearly the direction and choices available so we can explore the next right move for more positive impact.
When we slow down and check in with the inner compass of our core values we ensure we are still on our path and moving in the right direction.
When we slow down and check in with those around us, we can see the impact of our actions more clearly.
When we slow down and listen, really listen, we hear what is really meant even though it may be left unsaid.
When we slow down we see things as they really are. We see other choices, we make better decisions, we gain clarity.
The ‘relaxation techniques’ the coach introduced me to are what we call mindfulness meditation today. I’ve been meditating for over ten years. Meditation gave me the space to quiet my mental chatter and find out what really mattered to me so I could live from that place and show up fully both for myself and my clients. I don’t meditate to be a great meditator (I’m not – it’s a practice!!). I meditate so I can bring my best self out into the real world, and thrive in my interactions with others.
I’ve been coaching mindfulness in the workplace for the last 3 years explicitly, though I have been using it by stealth for many more, and clients have found huge benefits, in terms of building self-awareness, empathy, inter-personal skills and creativity to name a few.
So, slow down, pause and breathe. Notice how you are feeling and what might best serve you in this moment, then choose wisely, kick in to high gear and power forward. Slow down to speed up!
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