Monday 8 October 2012

Stop, Look, Listen

Before I went on holiday life had got very very busy - you know the sort of thing: get up and immediately turn on the PC, eat on the go, too much time spent on planes, trains and automobiles, eating too much of the wrong foods, no time for me or friends (or laughter for that matter), collapse in front of the TV for some mind numbing 'entertainment' to wind down before collapsing into bed. Oh yes ... not forgetting that irritability with the world and especially at the lack of speed everyone else was going!

What a difference a week can make!

It was a holiday of sorts - a week retreat if you will at a conference and training centre celebrating its 50th birthday. There were many local, national and international speakers offering lecturers and workshops for 7 hours a day for each of the 7 days I was there.

Over forth coming blogs I'm sure I'll share some of the insights shared during those lecturers/workshops but on my first day back in the office I'd like to share what I learnt about the pace of my life and more importantly the changes I'm making.
  • Stop: Stop the constant doing. The 7 hours of lectures were spread over 13 hours a day. That is we had lots of time to stop. 30 mins break in the morning, the same in the afternoon, nearly 2 hours for lunch and 3 hours for dinner. Initially I was frustrated with all this 'wasted' time. Now I realise it gave us time - it gave me time. Time to eat and then digest the food that had been prepared for us, to digest what we'd heard, to connect with others, to take time out or to catch up with any other activities we needed to attend to. It's interesting how often we try to fit these into the time we've set aside to attend to our To-do'ing.
  • Look: I'm sure my constant doing in the past, with that all too familiar physiology that goes with it - head down and a fast speed of walking, means I've missed much. Last week I had time to look around and notice the world around me - the people, nature and my own thoughts and feelings. That very 'looking' enabled me to connect to an energy that's been missing in my life for a while - a spontaneous, creative and expansive energy that is one that I need often in the work I do. Let's just hope I don't get too busy to let it slip through my fingers - again! 
  • Listen: I didn't attend every one one of the sessions on offer. What I did was listen to that quiet voice inside that suggested this lecture was one I would attend and this one wasn't. What that facilitated was a week where the information and insights came at a pace I could handle. It certainly wasn't about listening to that other critical voice inside that said "You might miss something." "But you've paid for this!" "What will others think?" This is one significant change that I'd like to continue now I'm home - taking time at the start of the day to listen to that quiet voice about priorities and To-dos. Which this blog is an example of because I wrote it first before looking at the emails!     
I'll let you know how I get on in embracing these changes. Certainly as I peek at my inbox for the first time,  with its 858 emails, I can feel the all too familiar voice whispering "quicker, quicker". Think I may need to print a copy of the road sign above to remind me of my commitment to change.

What changes do you need to make to enable you to connect to an energy that's needed for your work but has slipped through your fingers recently?  

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Ensuring your purchasing team takes time to stop, look and listen.


  1. I love this post! It's a bit of a pet hobbyhorse of mine - more haste, less speed and all that. Recently a friend of mine talked me into installing a wee program that reminds me to take breaks from my laptop regularly, which I have found brilliant. It's called workrave, and might help you with your goal, even though that's not what it was designed for. (No, I don't work for them)

  2. Thanks Susan I'll have a look as it's so easy to get caught up in all the constant doing

  3. Great post Alison. You're so right that we rush too much (and I have a toddler to consider on top of my own business and everything else!). Sometimes a "slow" day is a much more productive day. I'm going to try that workrave programme too!

  4. I found that although I also had a pile of emails like yours Alison, that I dealt with them easily, that I didnt feel I had to do them quickly, that I listened to my needs first. I notice that since getting home from Findhorn that I feel I have more time now, that I am putting myself before work, that I am really listening to that voice inside. I have had a few incredibly busy days since being home but each has felt different, like being on holiday somehow, that I have been aware, felt the moments in between activities, nothing fazed me, and have so much more energy and awareness. Long my this last :-)