Things that Matter

busy

I read an article about how defining your days as “busy” effectively gives you an excuse to ignore the most important things in your life. It suggested that we should eliminate the word “busy” from our vocabulary because it’s not a virtue, and it signals that we’re not able to manage our time effectively.

Everyone who reads this blog (all 3 of you) knows I’m into effective management of everything, and that I simply abhor inefficiency.

The article, and my life in general, has me thinking a lot about how I can cut out the noise, so that I free up my time for the people I love, for new experiences, and to nourish my soul. My soul has been on a steady diet of “10 hours of conference calls chased by 300 daily emails” for way too long. My soul wants to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate, with a sidecar of whiskey.

Meaningful connections at work, as well as in personal life, take much more time and energy to plan. We have to ignore the small stuff that randomize us, so that we can focus on what’s important. At work, that’s the stuff that changes the game — saves our customers time and money or allows them to reinvent their business. We need to spend less time lamenting what we can’t accomplish and more time actually adding value with what’s in our arsenal today.

In my personal life, that means more time outdoors, more time exercising, and more time spent with the people I care about. It’s trying a new recipe, because I love to cook…and then inviting over my loved ones to share it with me. Less time running useless errands and more time taking a bath with a good book.

Here’s to not being busy…but having a life filled with meaningful experiences and the people we love.

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Magnolias

magnolias

My magnolias are blooming, and they don’t know its the dead of winter. They’re probably confused because the weather is so unusual — it’s been warm during the day, and there hasn’t been any appreciable rainfall. Their budding started early last month, which precipitated a flurry of online research because I was worried about whether the trees would survive a budding with a subsequent freeze. The conclusion, as many things in life, was to let the trees be and they would sort it out themselves. So much for being an interfering new home owner.

The emerging blooms are beautiful. They fill me with hope for a coming spring, for longer days, and with longing for the coming days of lounging on the deck. Magnolias always remind me of my great grandmother, because she had a magnolia tree in her yard…and they were always the first trees to bloom in the spring. I was always happy as a child, seeing the magnolias during my visits.

I guess you could say that the magnolia is a pioneer — forging the path by announcing the coming of spring, and enduring cold temperatures and adversity while still managing to flower and flourish. And my lucky, optimistic magnolias have already reached California, which means that they’re unlikely to get buried in snow or be forced to eat their magnolia tree babies for sustenance. But the presence of those flowers still makes me sad for the early bloom, but happy for the eventuality of spring.

And left with the thought that there should be more magnolia trees in this world.

The Grind

grind

Tomorrow, everyone is back to work. 2014 becomes serious again — meetings, performance reviews, training for races and distance events. Measurement in all its forms will rear its ugly head, and the peace and clarity of the past two weeks will be a distant memory.

We are entering the period of grind. It happens most clearly in rides and races — the time between the potential of the beginning and the adrenaline of the finish line. It’s the time that actually decides the success of a race — your ability to shut out everything else, concentrate on the fundamentals, and tap into your inner strength. Successful focus during the grind is our true discriminator between competitors.

It’s not necessarily fun when you’re in it…The grind is the state where you sweat and strain without a ton of feedback from the world around you. Your vision tunnels, your pulse quickens, and you settle into a labor of pain. Focus is key, because your mind and body cannot sustain this level of effort without dedication.

At the end of the tunnel lies the finish line. The results are not yet known, but the key to successful outcomes lies in how well you adapt to and even fall in love with the grind. After some time, you may even welcome the return of the grind after a well-deserved rest.