We’ve all heard the expression, “coulda, woulda, shoulda” (or “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve”), and we have likely used it ourselves to shorten a conversation we don’t want to have because it highlights regrets. I heard this phrase in a song over the weekend, and I thought about how I would finish each phrase.
I could’ve – if my schedule just wasn’t so jammed…
I would’ve – if the urgencies of my day hadn’t become the priority…
I should’ve – but I didn’t have the time to think about it, much less take action…
No matter how you say it, or in what order, this phrase is an expression of disappointment in ourselves because we missed opportunities. I think that, many times, it comes down to moving too fast to live a life fully engaged.
In a recent gathering of top female executives from Signature, one of our advisors, Susan Suver, former CHRO at Aptiv, shared this story and advice in a toast to the group.
Go Slow to Go Fast
“Some of you know that last week I got off the trail with my husband where we spent 12 days hiking 150 miles on a trail that was actually walked by St. Francis of Assisi.
We were in central Italy. We started in a town called Lareto on the Adriatic Sea, and we wound our way through rolling farmlands, through forests with waterfalls and beautiful creeks. We summited mountains in the Apennine Mountain range, hiked along a section of the old Roman aqueduct, and through hundreds of thousands of olive trees.
I think the thing that made it so stunning is that we were hiking, which means even if you're hiking fast, you're moving pretty slowly. On the way back to the States, it made me think that our 12-day hike was a lot like the leadership journey of business executives. You know what your short-term goals are, and you know what your long-term goal is. You have a game plan around your people, your equipment, and the skills and the experience it's going to take to hit the target. But sometimes as business leaders, we are moving so fast to just hit the target, that we miss the opportunity to slow it down and to enjoy the wonder of the experience and the relationships that come along with us.
We need to move quickly to do what we do, but it’s also important to slow down, to find a way to a walking pace instead of a flying pace. If we don’t, we will miss the things we can't see and we can't experience when we’re moving too fast.
We need to 'go slow to go fast'… Despite the tugs and pulls for email and video calls and early starts and late nights, when you look back in 20 years, when your business career is over, be sure you won't just have recollections around what you achieved, but you'll have a lot of really memorable reflections around the journey.”
As you enter the holiday season, take a moment to slow down.
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda” leaves us without memorable reflections of the journey we are on. Sometimes living a life fully engaged means we don’t need the pressure of yet another plan. We just need to be present.
Wishing you a “slowed down” season of joy