As a kid, I used to spend part of every summer with my extended family in the foothills of the Adirondacks at my grandparents’ home. It was a great place, complete with a swimming lake, canoe & sailboat, rope swing into the lake, campfire, sing-a-longs, and s’mores. We called it Camp Wilson for good reason. But if the rain kept us inside, or if we needed a late evening activity, we played games. Lots of games. One of the cousins’ favorites was Pit.
If you have never played Pit, let me try to explain. It’s a raucous game that replicates the Stock Exchange floor. You try to trade cards (in 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s) with other players to accumulate all 9 in one of the grains (oats, flax, etc). It’s loud, and arms are criss-crossing every which way while people are yelling numbers and swapping cards, until someone yells, “Corner on Wheat!” The older cousins managed to master a silent game of Pit, after the younger cousins were in bed. Even then, it was pretty crazy.
My husband (then boyfriend) managed to alter the game dramatically. Apparently tired of the frenetic pace of the game, he approached one round at a snail’s pace. He didn’t yell. He didn’t rush. He simple stated, “Two, would anyone like two?” at a normal voice level.
A funny thing then happened. We all had to slow down.
We couldn’t barge on with the game if he was holding three of my Flax and two of my cousin’s Wheat. it just didn’t work. We all had to take a breath and play the game his way.
I was reminded of my husband’s playing this morning, when I read an article by Peter Bregman on Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning. Bregman reminds us that we often rush right through because we can. We need to take a breath and focus. There will always be distractions, but we need to focus on what’s important and (more importantly) what’s not.
I would challenge you to refrain from explaining away the lack of time or the last-minute approach. Of course, there will be emergencies that arise and demand your attention. However, I would encourage you to stop, focus, and get the important work done. You have more control over the pace than you give yourself credit for.
What things are on Your Focus list?