Don’t Forget the Roses

Posted on November 24, 2008


As I am heading into the final weeks here, pressure is increasing to bring my project to completion. In case anyone out there thinks that I am here on vacation, let me assure you that this has been very hard work. I have been working long hours, starting work every day at 8am and rarely leaving before 6 or 7pm. I don’t write about this much because it is not very interesting and because not many good pictures come out of it. The only reason I have had the excellent experience I have had to date is because I have carefully separated work and play time. My weekends are free of work and I use that time to catch up on personal stuff, travel, etc.

All of the Fellows have been under a lot of pressure from day one to deliver. We must always be “on”, ready to give advice or be pulled into a meeting or to try to communicate in Spanish. Your brain gets tired but it can also be energizing. You do learn that your limits are farther out than expected. Especially if you take the time to recharge.

I had the following document forwarded to me and I think it is excellent. It applies to everyone in today’s world, no matter what you are doing. It did not have an author cited, if you know who wrote this please let me know so I can properly give them credit.

Have you noticed that things often take longer than they should?

Because of that, it’s unwise to hang our emotional hats on the completion of any future events. Usually we don’t see everything we are going to have to endure to complete anything of any consequence. It’s smart to cultivate an attitude that gives us room to enjoy the surprises along the way toward completion.

I walk a fine line between identifying with a result I’d like to achieve, and just enjoying the process of getting there. As I’ve gotten older, out of necessity it seems that I’ve had to learn to relax a lot more about the end result, and build in more appreciation and fulfillment in just moving toward it.

Not to say that imagined results and outcomes are unnecessary–quite the contrary. They somehow are a natural extension of our creative energy that wants to express and manifest ourselves into this world. But I’ve found it to be tricky business to stay identified with the bigger me that’s just doing the process, and the other me that gets wrapped around some future event or success, and feels somehow unworthy unless that future event or success is achieved.

In coaching project or departmental teams, I often challenge them to clarify the values or principles that they want to adhere to, in doing the work together. Typical answers would be high quality, customer service, timeliness, keeping agreements, alignment with corporate mission, etc. What seldom shows up without some encouragement are things like “have fun,” and “ensure that we’re all using the project to develop ourselves personally and professionally.”

Most people and teams actually do consider those kinds of standards important. Some companies even list “fun” among their primary corporate values. However, having fun is seldom acknowledged or monitored. How often have you heard someone say something like this in a project meeting? “Wait a minute! We’re not having fun. What do we need to do to get back on course with fun?!”

The quality of experience parameters are the ones that can make a project more meaningful all along the way. Even if the project gets changed or canceled – as often happens — morale has not been totally hinged on some precarious future completion. It’s possible to feel good about the project at every step, even if the final outcome doesn’t turn out as expected. The quality of experience can be complete every day, no matter what surprises show up to affect the project’s completion.

Every journey has flowers along the path. Maybe by stopping to smell the roses, we learn to see that the dandelions have a place as well. Your fondest memories will include as many vignettes about the process of getting somewhere, as the completion itself.

I’ve lately had to remind myself, with so many Seriously Important Projects that are taking a lot longer than I’d hoped to accomplish — it’s just a way cool journey, dude.