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Hurry up and slow down

Today was full of meetings, coffee dates, and appointments. This morning as I contemplated the day ahead I thought, how ironic that I am sending out a newsletter about not being in a hurry on a day when I'm rushing back and forth. But as it turned out, I got everywhere in time to catch my breath and fix my hair before showtime. I have apparently internalized the lessons below so well that I automatically give myself plenty of transition time between appointments.

On the other hand, it's 7:00 pm as I start this (which means by the time I send it, the Halloween👻 theme🎃 will be utterly irrelevant😠) and I didn't make dinner — so maybe the real lesson is about managing expectations.

Silhouette of a bat in flight against a pink sky

Slackers

One of my favourite pieces of parenting advice is simple:

Don't be in a hurry.

(I didn't say it was easy.)

Kids, much like grown folks, want agency and influence. They want power, and they will get it however they can. The state of being in a hurry is a bit like a bomb: it's a situation which contains an immense amount of power, ready to be accessed and exploited. Skillful application of the tools available to a child — lingering, dawdling, distracting, tantruming, or whining — can result in outcomes like your increased agitation, lateness all around, and best of all, your undivided attention.

Taking the hurry out of the situation is like taking the explosive out of the bomb. So you're whining? That's okay, take your time! Can't find your shoes? No worries, we can look for them together. Even better, when you're not pressed for time you can give your child power in ways that work for both of you, like letting them put on their own jacket or choose their own gloves.

But this isn't a parenting newsletter. What does this have to do with the rest of the world? One word: slack. That's the title of a 2002 book by Tom DeMarco which I think about a lot (even though according to my blog I never actually read it, just a review of it; I'm very efficient). His idea is that organizations need to build slack time into schedules in order to accommodate change, allow for learning, respond to crises, and defend against burnout.

All those advantages of slack time apply outside the office, too. With some flexibility in your schedule, you'll have time to reflect, learn, and make changes. Perhaps you will have time to respond to an unexpected illness, cat-sit for a neighbour in need, or meet a faraway friend for coffee when they're in town for a day.
 

Slack shows up in coaching as silence. Silence is not something that happens much in conversations; in fact, when there is silence we often call it "awkward". But in the coaching conversation, there's time for silence. Silence is an invitation for the coachee to think a little longer and (hopefully) a little deeper than they otherwise might.

The most fruitful silences often come after the client says, "I don't know" — interesting, right?

Sometimes the silence is mine: the best coaching includes powerful questions and precise observations, and those things take time to craft. By giving myself a moment to think, I can say things in the most helpful way, and also give my client permission to take their own time.
 
 

Try this at home

In order to create slack in your life, you have to do less, which can be scary. But if you value the idea of having space and time in your life so that you can respond to people and situations with your best self, consider what you might do less of. (If you're stumped, check the Screen Time log on your phone. 😱)

(I also suspect that slack might allow you to do more in the long run, or perhaps be more impactful, but that's just a hunch.)

Try working with silence, too: If you ask someone a question and they pause, try letting the silence linger. See what happens. Or give yourself a moment to think before you answer a question. (See if the other person lets you!) How does it feel? What happens?

What's NewA different headshot!

I'm doing pretty well with my practicum assignments, and I'm on track for coaching hours. (I think! I haven't done the math for a couple of weeks.) I might pull this off, you guys!

I'm starting to think about 2020. I'll be building my business, which might include individual client work, external coaching for companies (where I am hired by the company to work with individual employees), working with teams, or running workshops. So exciting!

Two of my clients are coming to the end of their coaching series, so I am wide open for new clients. My focus is on software developers and managers who are in growth or transition: new grads, new managers, new hires, and folks who have hit a ceiling. I'm also keen to work with founders and entrepreneurs. If you know someone, spread the word!

Fun and Interesting

Thank you for reading this far!

If you like what you read, hit reply and let me know, or forward it and let someone else know. If you have questions or comments, hit reply and let me know. If you have seen something interesting out there, hit reply and let me know. Are you seeing a trend here? If so... hit reply and let me know! I look forward to hearing from you. ❤️

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