From the CEO: How we get there

AME | March 8, 2023

People are always telling us to slow down, practice self-care and take time for ourselves. Yet at the same time, we’re encouraged to work harder, engage longer and consume more. So, which is it?

I received a newsletter from a friend this week entitled “Crazy busy,” and it resonated with me. In it, the author talks about the consistencies among those of us who are “crazy busy.” 1) We try to multitask, which rarely, if ever, leads to success. 2) We feel exhausted and overwhelmed. 3) We must schedule things in advance, and what used to be fun and spontaneous is now a scheduled chore. 4) We have a hard time focusing and enjoying the moment, therefore feeling out of balance and guilty.

They also spoke about solutions. 1) Get plenty of rest. 2) Practice being in the moment. 3) Schedule free time. While these are important tips, it’s more of the same, right? This is so much easier said than done and conflicts with so much of the messaging we’re faced with daily. However, their fourth point hit home: 4) Dismiss the guilt. No one gets everything done at the end of the day, and you must learn to protect your time.

I recently stepped away for a mini “staycation” to tour the Great Dismal Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge that stretches across the border of Virginia into North Carolina. It’s one of the most important wildlife habitats in the mid-Atlantic region and sits on about 113,000 acres. (Once, it covered more than one million acres.) This has been on my bucket list for years, yet despite living hours away, I never took the drive. I looked for sightings of black bears, hogs, bats and even bobcats. And I quickly realized that the further I went into the swamp area, the less cell service I had.

There’s a difference between turning off our phones so we can’t check our email and being unable to check our emails. When the option is available, it will always be a temptation. But when our access has been taken away, it’s much easier to dismiss the guilt that comes with taking time off. Instead of thinking, “I should just check really quick to make sure there have been no emergencies,” our mindset becomes, “I have no cell service, so they will have to understand.” While we shouldn’t have to drive out to Timbuktu just to get some peace and quiet, there’s nothing wrong with giving ourselves a helping hand. One step at a time, right?

One of our team members takes an annual writing retreat deep in the mountains of Washington every January. She rents a tiny house that has been placed deliberately out of cell service and brings no entertainment with her. No books, games or downloaded movies—just food, campfire supplies and her laptop.

Crazy busy is not where we all want to be every day. My grandmother used to use the common saying, “You need to stop and smell the roses.” It is important to live life with a deeper appreciation of the world around us, despite the messaging we might otherwise receive. No one on their deathbed wishes they’d worked more. You don’t need another reminder to slow down and notice the little things that make life worthwhile. But let me offer you some validation instead for when you finally do.

As lean leaders, we know how valuable it is to pay attention and appreciate the journey of change instead of concentrating on and rushing to the destination. At every event and conference, this is the part we share. Why? Because the end goal changes all the time, whether it's a new product, a new customer or a new need. To adapt, we need the journey. In life and in business, our destination is only half of the picture. It matters far more how we get there and what we learned and improved in ourselves along the way.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.