March 13, 2013
Ricochet Rabbit. Do you remember that Hanna-Barbera cartoon character? I used to refer to one of my bosses by that name, as I watched her bounce from one corner of the office to another. Bing, bing, bing!
Funny thing is, I recognize that all-over-the-place, unrealistic pace and pattern in myself from time to time. Too often, actually. Including lately.
It was common when I was running a small non-profit organization, where I fell into work-a-holism. That was part of what led me to leave my job and go to grad school out of town. I needed a bit of a break from my unreasonably paced reality. Later, as I put myself on a sabbatical from politics, I was figuring out that doing all that campaign volunteer work while working a full-time job sends me into that kind of frenzy, too.
Why do I keep doing that to myself?
OK, so part of it is because I’m a Maximizer Achiever. Deadly combination. Let me explain. Have you ever taken the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment? It identifies what Gallup calls your top five “Signature Themes.” The point is that we all have things we do well or characteristics that tend to come naturally. Gallup suggests that we focus on understanding and using those key traits rather than spending lots of time trying to improve areas where we are weak. My challenge is that having both “Maximizer” and “Achiever” among my signature themes means that I always need to be accomplishing something, and I need to make the most of every situation. If I don’t keep myself in check and find ways to manage those tendencies appropriately, I become Ricochet Rabbit.
Religion isn’t one of the R’s I had planned to bring into this particular installment. It was supposed to be a simple, secular post about getting some R&R. But then I went to church this Sunday. And Pastor preached about the 7 Deadly Sins. With a twist.
“Some of us need a little more sloth in our lives,” he said. While some of us need to fight against a propensity toward laziness, many of us probably face an opposite challenge. We need to slow down.
I’m not going to do justice to the various authors that Pastor referred to. I’m sure there was some Barbara Brown Taylor in there. And some Walter Wink, I think. The sermon’s most compelling concept for me was the Uber Sloth. Busyness is the Uber Sloth’s thing. This character may look like it’s doing lots of good stuff. But it’s not really being productive.
My chicken-scratch sermon notes culminate in what is probably a paraphrase of somebody’s great quote: “Test the idea that you are worth more than you can produce. You are still precious in God’s sight.” (Let me know if you know who I’m plagiarizing, so I can give them proper credit.)
Now for personal application and accountability. Even when I’m trying to rest and relax and slow down, the Maximizer Achiever in me needs to feel like I’m accomplishing something and making the most of an opportunity. So, as I test the idea that I am worth more than I can produce and work on being a little more slothful—and maybe even a little more productive in the long-run—I have to make an R&R to-do list. This helps me make my signature themes work for me, as I get the satisfaction of checking things off my list. And I’m going to write more about the items and ask you to check in with me to make sure I invest in plenty of:
R&R. It really was a theme this weekend.
After church I went to a memorial service for a colleague in social justice activism and philanthropy. She reminded me a lot of myself. As I took in the beautiful pictures, music, and tributes, I was forced to think about what I hope people would say about me after I pass on. I was struck by the beautiful friendships that clearly nurtured my colleague on good and bad days. We were left with poignant words from a family member: “Busyness cannot be a way of life. In the end, relationships are what matter most.”
What will R&R stand for in your life?