This first week of the new year presents a period of rebirth and reawakening. Not just because the calendar has marked the birth of a new year filled with promise and opportunity but also because it is a time that many of us return to work after a much-needed respite from our daily grind. For many professionals, this time of year is the only time that such a break is possible and it is a great chance to truly break away and recharge your battery.
In my old corporate life, I could not wait for my holiday break and was often even more thrilled with my return to work. Despite the volumes of emails and countless voicemails, despite the inevitable crisis that arose while I was out (but could not be handled until I returned, naturally), there was a calm that came with the familiar chaos. While I love my husband and children, two weeks of non-stop interaction with distractions only to shop, cook, eat and sleep, is frankly a bit more than I can tolerate.
In my new life as an independent consultant, the new year has a very different flavor for me. I definitely feel refreshed and excited about the possibilities but instead of me pouring through my endless emails, I am waiting on clients who have to sort through their chaos before they can turn their attention to me and my emails and voicemails. I need to have patience – something that is in short supply with me.
Yesterday, a friend shared a blog written by a woman in her community because she knew how much I enjoy writing and thought I would appreciate her friend’s work and writing style. She warned me about the backstory of her friend and suggested that I arm myself with tissues before I dove in to read. Her friend is an average woman with two children living in the suburbs talking about her daily travails. Her anecdotes were funny and touching and I found myself engrossed with getting to know her and her family a little bit better. Then the bomb dropped when, last September, she told the story of the tragic death of her 12 year-old son. Being a parent (to an 11 year-old son, no less), her story was my worst nightmare. She lost her son in a freak accident that, upon replaying it in her mind hundreds, if not thousands of times, she believed could have been avoided. After her son’s death, her blog became a place of solace for her to rant and seek comfort and pay tribute to all the magic her son brought to her life. One particular post I had to re-read several times and became the catalyst for this one for me. It was all about patience. It was so striking for me because it was if she and her son were giving me some guidance that I really did not know I needed at that moment.
As I said, patience is in short supply with me. I want everything done yesterday. I hate waiting – not because I am demanding or think I am entitled or privileged – because I want to rush to the next step, the next milestone. I want to know the answer, I need to know the outcome. When I was pregnant with both my children, I laughed when I talked to other expectant moms who said they were going to wait until the delivery room to learn the sex of their child. How could you possibly wait? It was non-negotiable that I would find out what I was having and, quite, frankly, 20 weeks was far too long to wait for that information!
When I was a kid, I often unwrapped and re-wrapped presents because I could not handle the anticipation and needed to know what I was getting. That always backfired because it killed the surprise, but I had no patience. How many times I read the last page of a book when I was a kid because I simply could not wait to find out what was going to happen. Surely, patience is a virtue. Patience is worth it. Patience pays off. Sadly, I have none.
Yesterday, as I settled in to my back-to-work-after-the-holidays routine of beginning to hunt down clients to try to get higher on their priority lists and get answers to my questions and find out what was coming next for my business, I was thoroughly without patience. Once again, I wanted life to work on my timetable and anything less was going to truly bum me out. And then, a little boy who tragically left this world and his mom whose life has an enormous hole that I can’t imagine anything in the universe could ever fill taught me a lesson about the power of patience that I hope will help me grow and learn.
And that is the beauty of the world we live in. Thank you Jack.