Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lists, lists, lists.

So, what’s on your list? I know you have one. We all do. Some of us are list-makers; we like everything written down so we don’t forget something. Even more we like the feeling of accomplishment when we check something off or draw a line through it. (There are even a few of us who upon completing a task that wasn’t on the list will add it after the fact just for the pleasure of marking it done!)

Ok, you’re not that crazy. In fact, you don’t like to write down a list, too stressful to see it all in one place or maybe too confining. But admit it, even if you aren’t a list-maker, you have a list. It may be things you’d like to do sometime in this lifetime. It might be your New Year’s resolutions. It might be a ‘should’ list of things you ought to do someday like clean out the garage. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, we all have lists of some sort or another even if we call it our kid’s social calendar. From mid-November through the start of the year, those lists can be particularly full and crazy-making.

My original ideas was to write something about planning as a leadership skill, as a way to make things a little less hectic. It’s true that planning can help, but the reality is that no matter how well we plan, some days it doesn’t help. Whether it’s someone else’s poor planning, a traffic snarl, or the slow cashier, there are things outside our control, beyond the reach of our wonderful plans and it can all go awry.

Therefore, instead of talking about planning, here’s a reminder from Leadership Yoga – it’s not so much what we do as how we do it. I had a list for today and I’m off schedule. I could choose to rush through things feeling frazzled – that’s the way to a cut finger while slicing vegetables. Or I could choose to chop vegetables with my full attention, carefully, easily, enjoying the smells and colors and textures. Full disclosure here, after chopping two onions had me in tears, I asked my husband for help – also an important lesson in getting things done. After the onions, he kept on with the celery while I peeled carrots and it turned in to the fun of cooking together. If I’d been feeling harried and sorry for myself I would have missed out on that moment.

So, the next time your list is overwhelming, or you’re feeling frazzled, quit worrying about getting it all done and start paying attention to how you’re doing the one task in front of you. Take a deep yoga breath and let it out fully and see what there is to enjoy in the task, even if it’s just that when you’re done you can cross it off the list.



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