Have you ever thrashed around in the emotional pain of indecision, or found yourself suffering from “paralysis of analysis” regarding a particular personal or professional issue or choice? Of course you have. Everyone “goes there” at some time or another, don’t they? And–thank goodness–sooner or later we all find our way through the instability of these nasty “worm holes” (my geeky Star Trek: The Next Generation analogy), and discover that work life (or other life) is better on the other side of the challenge and that we’ve been made richer and stronger from it.
For some inexplicable reason this mid-summer’s day, I’m recalling such a challenge that was visited upon me (both personally and professionally) back some 18 years ago. Indeed, the fret of, “What to do?? What to do???”, caused me months of great personal pain and, quite frankly, made my work performance suffer, too. As is typical for many, I stuffed my worries way down and soldiered on with my daily routine as best I could.
During this phase of my most challenging “life cross-roads” (at least so far!), my daughter–who was no more than two…but not named Cindy-Lou Who!–daily pulled down from my library shelf a classic book by Gail Sheehy, entitled, Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life (a book I’d purchased but had yet to read…I did that a lot back then; still do, I confess; you, too? so many books…so little time, but I digress). Totally preoccupied with both the daily busyness of motherhood and my worries, I would thoughtlessly and automatically take Passages from my girl’s little hand and place it back on the shelf. The very next day–just like the cat that always came back the very next day, or just like the shoes that my puppy, Angus, would repeatedly cart out to the yard in his mouth…full of slobbers, yuck!), Kathryn would rediscover Passages on the shelf and hand it to me yet again…each time saying either, “This, this???”, or, “Mummy read?” “What was it with her and this book???”, I wondered. Must be its pretty fushcia cover and rainbow letting. And this little “game” between us carried on for days! No matter where I randomly replaced this book on the shelf, Kathryn would find it and offer it up to me again and again.
Finally, one day when I was feeling particularly troubled–and when my dear little girl had ever-so-patiently handed me Ms. Sheehy’s book yet again, saying, “This? This?”, it hit me: perhaps “this” is an omen? a message? a blinding flash of the obvious? I thanked my toddler for the offer of the pretty book and read it. And so began my transition from the “paralysis of analysis and indecision”, to courage and action. The rest–as they say–is history. Thanks to finally paying attention to a “gift” from a sweet, innocent and unlikely source, and thanks to finally paying attention to that “blinding flash of the obvious”, I was on my way to personal and professional clarity, success and satisfaction once again.
And so I ask you:
1. Where it your experience–work life or otherwise–have you missed that “blinding flash of the obvious”, which could have helped you see your way through quicker or with greater ease?
2. Could you possibly be missing such a “flash” right now? Something to think about–yes? Pay heed.
Rest not. Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests. – Gail Sheehy
And finally…once again from my love of the wisdom from Star Trek: TNG:
Make it so. Engage. – “Captain Jean Luc Picard” (“Star Trek: Next Generation”)
P. S. To this very day my (now 21 year old) daughter loves this Passages story, and likes to take credit for helping to facilitate my higher awareness of oh-so-many years ago.
I’ve always told her she’s an “old soul” and I’m sure she fancies herself “older and wiser” than I a times. That’s fine with me. Perhaps, indeed, she is.