This Sunday, I was working on a project which used to be an inspiring exciting project but more recently had become a kind of frustrating upsetting project. It wasn’t coming together as I had hoped. Or maybe more specifically, it wasn’t coming together as quickly as I had hoped. My frustration was building as I started to catalog reasons things weren’t happening quickly.
- I blamed myself for not being further along.
- I blamed circumstances… “If only!”
- I blamed others (in this case, specifically, my husband. And in this case, specifically, I hadn’t asked for help or communicated my need or even indicated that I could use a hand...but hoped he’d read my mind and offer help. He did not. Unfortunately, he is a human man and does not mind-read.)
And then I stopped. (Probably the wisest thing I did all day.)
I went for a walk. As I strolled through the redwood trees, I stopped blaming and started examining what had happened. As I admired the forest, thought about the hundreds of years it takes for some trees to grow, it dawned on me. I needed more time.
I simply hadn’t given myself enough time - nor did I ever carefully estimate an amount of time my project would take at the beginning. I didn’t ask for help, nor did I acknowledge that learning things I did not know would take some time and practice. I just kind of skipped to the “doing” fueled by inspiration and ignorance (a great place to start, by the way, but tough to maintain in the long run).
And when I didn’t get the results I wanted, I blamed my own performance instead of a lack of resources.
I just hoped for Instadone.
Automagically things would come together.
I’m okay when the going gets tough.
I’m NOT okay when the going gets SLOW.
My inner voice sounded more like Veruca Salt. “I want it and I want it NOW.”
We’re conditioned this way. We see what we want and we also see the finished gorgeous glorious results others have produced (thanks, Instagram and Pinterest and Amazon). The inner 4-year old throws a fit when it’s not as we wish. Or maybe it’s a more sophisticated situation with more subtleties throw in, but the result is the same.
Faster is better. And “now” is the best, thank you very much.
But building a life that is meaningful, being a leader that is trusted, creating a culture at home or at work, takes thinking. It takes practice. It takes time to think, plan, execute, learn, build upon what went right.
Frustration is a sign that:
- We have to give ourselves the grace of more time.
- We have to give ourselves the grace of asking for help when we need it.
- There is an uncommunicated expectation of someone you haven’t conveyed
Does this land in your own life? When things are coming together more slowly than expected, where does your mind go?
Where does your blame go? What can be adjusted?
At my first job, as an junior art director at an advertising agency, we were up on deadline and I was close to tears with stress of missing the “cut off” for getting something to a printer. There were still changes coming in and I was seeing we’d miss the deadline. In a panic, I told my creative director I couldn't make any more changes because we had run out of time. My creative director looked at me, chuckled and said, “Oh, there’s always more time.”
We just have to allow it for ourselves.