Monday, October 11, 2010

In a Rush

When you absolutely need to get somewhere in a short period of time our brains go into overdrive. We begin to make decisions at a rapid pace: should I take the highway or the main road, should I race to beat that light, or can I squeeze in here? When the pressure is on, the answer we turn to most often is, “YES, YES, YES!”

How do we compensate for time? We take short cuts. We drive a little faster, change lanes more often, and honk our horns. We do things that inform other drivers on the road we are in a rush. But, does taking short cuts really work? Let’s create a series of events to check and see if “rushing” really does get us ahead.

It’s Tuesday morning, a very important day in some circles, and “oh my goodness” I’ve slept in. After the initial moment of absolute panic you begin to prioritize the things you need to do.

Forget brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast, or having a cup of coffee. You’re in such a daze when you wake up that all you care about is the hair on top of your head. Also, thanks to the “Powers that Be” you were able to press your clothes and lay them out the previous night – that came in handy.

Before you know it, you’re running out of your house. Your heart is pounding, beads of sweat are pouring down your face, and your report is sitting on the kitchen counter. You pull out of your drive way, if you’re fortunate enough to own a motor vehicle, and pop a piece of gum into your mouth – “take that!” bad breath.

You’re on the road asking yourself, “why is everyone driving so slow!?” You begin the process of swerving in and out of traffic to try and get ahead. You’re driving 80 in a 60 zone and 100 in a 80 zone – 20 km above the speed limit never hurt anybody, right? WHY ARE ALL THE LIGHTS RED! On the days you’re hoping, wishing, NEEDING green lights you seem to hit every single red on your trip. Someone, Somewhere, is laughing at you…

Finally, you make it to work. You look at the clock – an hour late – not too shabby. You plop down at your desk only to realize you forgot your report, you look like hell, and your heart is beating faster than the Lead in River Dance – was it worth it?

When we are in a rush we cut corners, but what do we really achieve? Does rushing really get us ahead?

There are going to be times in life where we are going to ask ourselves, “should I be rushing?” Sometimes you answer “yes” and other times you will say “no”, but what’s the harm in taking your time?

Lets replay our sleeping-in scenario and see what differences would occur. You wake up, “OH CRAP!” I slept in. You go to the bathroom and do your morning “clean up.” Your clothes are ready for you, but coffee might be out of the question – you’re going to have to drink from the office pot. You grab your report and head out the door. Pulling out of the driveway you remember the voice of your first driving instructor and decide to drive to work as if it was any other day.

This is where I would like to make a specific point. On the days you are not late for work – do you ever notice the people who are? You can see them whizzing in and out of traffic and you think to yourself, “they’re crazy.” Do you ever notice that even though they are driving faster than you, you always seem to be right behind them at each stoplight? What if driving faster really doesn’t mean getting to your destination faster? What if it meant you got to each light faster, but still had to wait. What if driving at the suggested speed meant getting to your destination in the same time? (Just a thought)

So, you get to the office and maybe instead of being an hour late you’re actually an hour and a half late. What’s the big deal? You look good, smell good, you’re relaxed, and more importantly you can handle the presentation you have to make about the report you brought with you today. You aren’t one of those people who are habitually late – you can legitimately be late every once in a while. (Life is good)

Now, I have used the example of sleeping in for work, but if you stop to think about it we can transfer our “rushing” theorem into a number of facets in our lives. We stress and we stress – for what, an extra minute here or thirty minutes there? When the mind is in a state of panic we overload our frontal lobe and our ability to make good decisions falter. Life is in perpetual motion forward and our actions shape each moment. Do things on your own time.

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