I don’t know what my parents fed me as a child. But as far back as I can remember, I have had fire in my belly, ambition in the pit of my stomach and a never say die attitude. However, these attributes are gender neutral. I am not. And several stages in life compel you to slow down. Like starting your own family.
But if you are as robotic as I am, your unfinished business keeps coming back at you. It’s like a background process on a computer that tries endlessly to complete a task, but eventually ends up heating the machine because the RAM hits 100%. Sounds familiar?
So here I am. I never learned how to hit the Pause button in life or take a break. Until I recently came across this Serenity Prayer that has apparently been around since 1951:
‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference’.
Serenity and acceptance were always on the horizon while I was chasing my dreams and balancing responsibilities. Plenty of people tried telling me it was okay to slow down; it was okay to take a break and it was okay to breathe. I wasn’t listening. But eventually, I grew up. That’s when this prayer showed up. And then some more words made sense, ‘When the student is ready, the master appears’.
Pause is so critical to success. It gives you time to breathe; it helps you tweak your plans and respond to the unforeseen; it compounds your velocity and impact. What is comedy without the pauses? What’s an F1 without pit stops? And how would a mother give birth if the contractions didn’t give her breaks to push harder?
Over the past few days, I have been pushing my 12-YO to the hilt. I expect her to stay focused all day and give it her best. But I forget she is only 12. So, I recite the Serenity Prayer and it calms me down. It makes me realise, you don’t need to push your kids to become a better version of yourself. You need to push them to be the best versions of who they are. But you don’t push all the time.
Use the pushback toy car strategy. Push them and leave them. Pause and let them lunge forward, then repeat. As easy as child’s play. No one needs a legacy of ambition and aggression. One of acceptance is just fine. That said, it doesn’t mean raising lazy kids or giving up on your own dreams. It just means taking life one day at a time. So, push yourself, but don’t forget to slow down and smell the roses. Rome was not built in a day. Because life isn’t just about the relentless pursuit of happiness or success, is it?
Today’s Lesson: Learn to hit the Pause button; especially if you are biting dust. A pause gives you time to learn from your mistakes, tweak your plan and to relaunch your wisest self yet.