It has been 20 years since my mom passed in early 2001. Even though it has been a long time since she has physically been with me, I can still hear her voice in my head, repeating many of her motherly maxims. One of her favorite sayings, which has become more meaningful to me over time was, “It’s time to putz around.” Mom loved to “putz,” a 1960s term meaning something like “the ability to meander around the house or waste time on frivolous activity.” For mom, putzing had become her pause button. Raising seven children was no frivolous activity to be sure, so when she had a moment of rest, she putzed. In her case, she wasn’t wasting time, but rather finding space for recovery to regroup and recharge, readying herself to take the (mother) hill again.
When we first started working from home, most of us were delighted to be rid of our commutes and to have that time back to ourselves. But as team members began to realize they had more time, the days have somehow become even more jam-packed than before. After spending all day on “Zoom” calls, we are seriously tired. How can we possibly think about finding more time to learn?
Did you know that our IQ is relatively fixed by the age of six? To learn, we must have a growth mindset. First, we need to believe in our ability to improve. Then, we need to create instances that allow the growth to take flight.
There are three such instances I lean on because they are easy to do, and I feel they lighten my load versus add more things to do. Perhaps, one or all of these can serve you, too.
I came across an old magazine article over the weekend. You may not remember her name, but you likely remember seeing photos of the young female surfer competing without an arm. Bethany Hamilton was 13 when she lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing in Kauai. After losing 2/3 of her blood, her future was uncertain. Yet 24 days after the attack, Bethany was back on a surfboard. Two years later, she was a national champion.
Bethany’s mindset – her ability to focus on what she could do and what was possible instead of the obstacles and challenges – kept her moving forward. I was struck by the words Bethany gave the interviewer: “My passion for surfing outweighed my fear of sharks. I dreamed of surfing competitively and the loss of my arm didn’t stop that dream.”*
I ran away from home once when I was six. It didn’t go as planned.
It started as a normal Saturday for me… a lot of noise and activity in a large family with one brother (the first born) and five sisters. My spot was somewhere in the middle. I often felt very different from my siblings who were more athletic. They played football and tennis and did cheerleading. Athletics was a strong suit in the family. Our father lettered in four sports in college (not a typo – back in the day, you could play multiple sports because coaches didn’t expect year-round commitments). Most Saturdays, my siblings were out the door and off to play on some team or gather with friends for a sporting event. I felt left out, somehow inadequate because I didn’t have the athletic prowess they all seemed to have been born with.
When I was in college, my days started before my feet hit the floor… or so my roommate said. I was that morning person who couldn’t wait to get going, even on the weekends. Later, well into my career, I was a good fit for a global company that had employees covering all time zones and a culture that was 24/7: always available, always “on.” When I started a family, this became harder, and I found I struggled to recover at that pace. Now, as an entrepreneur running a global business, who has grown children and young grandchildren, the pace still becomes unsustainable at times. This is especially true now, as each of our days has become a blend of home and work life in this global pandemic. Maybe you feel something similar today or have felt like this through the various stages of your life.