Job Advice

Practicing Patience through Pumpkin Carving

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October 25, 2011
"Patience is a virtue"…how many times did I hear that phrase growing up? How many times a day does it reverberate in my subconscious as I grit my teeth when things don’t move at the lightening speed to which I am accustomed? Every time I hear those words I think exactly the same thing – "What a load of crap. Patience is just another word for wasting time". Can you tell that this is a key development area for me? I have come a long way, but I have a lot of work to do so you can only imagine how big of a development challenge this is for me.

I try very hard to consciously focus when people are talking to me. This is particularly challenging when the conversation is one-sided and the words have no real impact on my life. This works for about 45 seconds (a new world record) and then I just cannot help myself. My eyes glaze over and I begin working through the million other more important things going on in my life in my head (while trying very hard to make it look like I care at all). This is not easy to do and some of you would be lying if you told me this never happens to you. I will admit that now and then I do miss some little kernel of important information, but more often than not, I get more done in my head than I would ever get from the conversation.

Getting things done – this is another area where I have to work very hard not alienate all of my friends and family. When I have things to do, I am on a mission to get them done and I just don’t worry about the collateral damage as I focus on the goal that I intend to achieve by the end of the day, the hour or even that very minute. If you are helping me with the task at hand, your lackluster pace could be detrimental to your health (and mine) so just back off and let me do it myself.

So now I get to the point of my title. Pumpkin Carving.

This weekend we headed to our farm with several pumpkins for a quality "fall getaway". I was in charge of cutting tops off, scooping out pumpkin guts, sorting seeds and general project management. Right up my alley…so I thought. However, when the pumpkins are being carved by my young, reckless boys, the whole concept of project management quickly takes on a whole new life. At one point, I turned around to find Nate performing acupuncture on his pumpkin. Drew must have drawn the face on his pumpkin twenty times before he was satisfied. The carving process was excruciating as I was there only to observe and coach and I wanted nothing more than to snatch that knife out of my kid’s hand and just do it myself – quickly, neatly and efficiently. My husband was so engrossed in carving the perfect "bat" on his pumpkin that he was completely oblivious to the sheer personal and metal strength that went into maintaining my self control.

I believe I really made some good progress during our carving activity over the weekend. I did not scream or cry or stomp my feet. I did not push my kids out of the way, seize the carving tools and complete the perfect pumpkins by myself. I am feeling pretty good about it all and I decided that this was one of the best personal development exercises I have participated in this year. Besides, there is something cathartic about scooping out big handfuls of pumpkin guts with your bare hands.

So, if you have children (or can borrow some), get your hands on some pumpkins and find a zen getaway spot where you too can exercise your patience and self control. Do it now, before Halloween comes and you’ve missed your chance because then you might have to let your kid carve the Turkey and we all know how that could turn out.