Some days are diamonds, some days are stones, I think internally as a typically awesome day turns quickly into a disaster.
Waking up this morning, I feel well-rested and praise God when I hear the soft, calming sound of rain dancing on the roof of my house. My wife pours me a cup of coffee that tastes exceptionally rich and full-bodied and the front page of the paper offers only inspirationally good news. Scout, my Labrador retriever walks to my side of the bed, places his chin down on the mattress, hoping for a scratch behind the ear which I offer affectionately. “Love you buddy,” I giggle, jump out of bed and head for the shower.
Water is my therapy. Swimming the slow moving water of the Coeur d’Alene River, kayaking the aquamarine, glacial water of Bead Lake, Wash., or fly fishing the rapids of the St. Joe River offer a time to think about big world, global questions. In nature, one’s mind has the luxury to indiscriminately float and ebb wondering, “Is what I’m doing in my life today making a difference in the world in which I live,” or, “What effect did my raising have on the man I am today?”
The isolation of a warm shower on a cold winter day provides a type of therapy natural water can’t. Questions found in the shower are immediate questions needing quick resolution. “How will I support a child this morning knowing his parents told him last night that they are divorcing,” or, “How do I share with my staff a difficult decision that I must enforce, but disagree with?” In nature, I use my whole brain to understand my world. In the shower, my frontal lobe is engaged to make a rational decision quickly and logically.
Often, quick decisions are required. As my grandmother says, “Poop or get off the pot.” Living in indecision and ambiguity stalls an organization. Sometimes, one must simply make a decision and live with it. So, in the shower, I make a quick and rational decision to hold a staff member accountable for what others perceive as poor decision making and put her on a remediation plan of improvement. This is a big deal; one that can negatively affect one’s career.
Arriving at school, I call the employee to my office and quickly, rationally and without emotion, explain to the employee her fate. I like to get these types of things done quickly as not to lose sleep over it. The employee, obviously upset, explains her side of the story which is vastly different from what I was led to believe. Sticking to my guns and having made a rational decision in my therapeutic shower, I believe my decision is solid and do not budge.
Now comes the stones. Doubt begins to enter my mind. Did I make this decision, which affects the future of a good employee, too rashly? Did I take the time to hear all corners of the conversation before building an opinion based on half-truths? This day with an amazing start just turned to dust.
For the rest of the day, I am stuck in my head. I am only half present as people demand my whole attention, I quickly attack when asked simple questions and disregard friends who wonder if I am OK. Snapping to attention, I grab my coat, put on my stocking cap and head out the door into the rain — I need to walk.
I first saunter, then pick up the pace to a quick walk and eventually am walking so fast that I begin to breath heavily. Rain fogs my glasses and moistens my face. I look briefly at my watch and notice that what feels like five minutes has been 20 and I am now a few miles away from work. What was lost in the shower is regained in nature. I have time to think about the whole picture of my actions and resolve to make things right with my employee. I walk briskly, almost running back to work, quickly find the employee and have a deep, meaningful conversation about good work, then build a plan with her to reach her professional goals.
Big, important decisions take time and thought. Gathering all information available, listening to all sides of a story and weighing the importance of one’s decision often leads to good leadership. Using all of one’s senses to make well thought out decisions in paramount to good management. I think I will sleep well tonight.
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Send comments or other suggestions to William Rutherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit pensiveparenting.com.