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Taking a Cue from Mother Nature

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Taking a Cue from Mother NatureSo often in life, nature is something we first try to change and then try equally as hard to replicate. I might be among the worst offenders of this. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient with my time, cut-out the waste and cram in just one more hour’s worth of work somewhere, somehow. But time and time again, this haste has led me to mistakes, accidents and set-backs that in the end required more of my time than if I had just tried to do things right in the first place. Just a few days ago I was inspired by the Lao Tzu quote, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Ancient philosophers have quite a knack for making the most obvious statements while lining them with an intensely deep meaning that changes your world in a matter of seconds. And with this quote, I began to reexamine the perceived benefit of rushing through life’s tasks.

I can recall countless instances where rushing has cost me valuable time and caused unnecessary frustration. In the morning, I always feel like I’m saving time by multi tasking while brushing my teeth, but when toothpaste ends up on clothes and carpets, I spend more time cleaning up a mess that would otherwise have not been created. One specific morning, I was reaching for a canister of oatmeal with one hand and opening a drawer to grab a spoon with the other, when the entire canister came crashing to the floor. I lost about 20 minutes that day sweeping up oatmeal all for the possibility of saving a few extra seconds. Aside from a few messes here and there, rushing while driving to a meeting, proof-reading an important document or balancing my finances could lead to consequences far more severe. I suppose the underlying point is – how much time could I really be gaining by overloading myself with unnecessary multi-tasking?

In looking to nature for examples, I realized far more important tasks are accomplished every day, moving at the exact same pace they have been for all time. There’s something to be said for steady and consistent progress. Flowers bloom, animals migrate and weather changes just as it should to keep everything else moving in harmony. Could you imagine if just one piece of this puzzle were to rush its role? Everything else would be thrown off to create repercussions almost unimaginable. Most interesting of all is that we might be the only species inclined to rush. Where does this pressure come from? Why do we feel like what we accomplish in the time we’re given is never enough? I’m sure we can each answer this based upon different reflections, but what’s important is that we stop rushing long enough to at least ask.

In my own life, I can easily pick out the almost comical examples of how I try to change nature, just to replicate it. Our natural state is what we first try to improve upon, but ultimately use as our model for perfection. Just last week I spent a day rushing through my to-do list, feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to get done. My reason for the rush? I wanted to have time to do yoga that afternoon so I could “unwind and de-stress.”  My new goal is to take a cue from Mother Nature and find a pace at which I’m making steady and consistent progress. For a serial multi-tasker this will be hard habit to break, but if it allows me to find more moments of clarity and contentment to appreciate the natural perfection of the world around me, it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

One of my favorite photos of Scott and me in front of Penn State’s Old Main Building. Every year, these flowers bloom in perfect harmony with spring and summer on campus.

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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Life, Wisdom

 

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Taking a Cue from Mother Nature

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

So often in life, nature is something we first try to change and then try equally as hard to replicate. I might be among the worst offenders of this. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient with my time, cut-out the waste and cram in just one more hour’s worth of work somewhere, somehow. But time and time again, this haste has led me to mistakes, accidents and set-backs that in the end required more of my time than if I had just tried to do things right in the first place. Just a few days ago I was inspired by the Lao Tzu quote, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Ancient philosophers have quite a knack for making the most obvious statements while lining them with an intensely deep meaning that changes your world in a matter of seconds. And with this quote, I began to reexamine the perceived benefit of rushing through life’s tasks.

I can recall countless instances where rushing has cost me valuable time and caused unnecessary frustration. In the morning, I always feel like I’m saving time by multi tasking while brushing my teeth, but when toothpaste ends up on clothes and carpets, I spend more time cleaning up a mess that would otherwise have not been created. One specific morning, I was reaching for a canister of oatmeal with one hand and opening a drawer to grab a spoon with the other, when the entire canister came crashing to the floor. I lost about 20 minutes that day sweeping up oatmeal all for the possibility of saving a few extra seconds. Aside from a few messes here and there, rushing while driving to a meeting, proof-reading an important document or balancing my finances could lead to consequences far more severe. I suppose the underlying point is – how much time could I really be gaining by overloading myself with unnecessary multi-tasking?

In looking to nature for examples, I realized far more important tasks are accomplished every day, moving at the exact same pace they have been for all time. There’s something to be said for steady and consistent progress. Flowers bloom, animals migrate and weather changes just as it should to keep everything else moving in harmony. Could you imagine if just one piece of this puzzle were to rush its role? Everything else would be thrown off to create repercussions almost unimaginable. Most interesting of all is that we might be the only species inclined to rush. Where does this pressure come from? Why do we feel like what we accomplish in the time we’re given is never enough? I’m sure we can each answer this based upon different reflections, but what’s important is that we stop rushing long enough to at least ask.

In my own life, I can easily pick out the almost comical examples of how I try to change nature, just to replicate it. Our natural state is what we first try to improve upon, but ultimately use as our model for perfection. Just last week I spent a day rushing through my to-do list, feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to get done. My reason for the rush? I wanted to have time to do yoga that afternoon so I could “unwind and de-stress.”  My new goal is to take a cue from Mother Nature and find a pace at which I’m making steady and consistent progress. For a serial multi-tasker this will be hard habit to break, but if it allows me to find more moments of clarity and contentment to appreciate the natural perfection of the world around me, it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

One of my favorite photos of Scott and me in front of Penn State’s Old Main Building. Every year, these flowers bloom in perfect harmony with spring and summer on campus.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Life

 

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Last Glimpse of Summer

I’m taking a brief hiatus from blogging this week, but in the meantime enjoy some images of my last glimpse of summer before I inevitably springboard head-first into Autumn.

And I think after seeing these, you’ll understand my reasons for the blogging break….

The shoreline at Topsail Beach, NC

Patrick lives for beach vacations each year

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Life

 

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Strive for Progress Not Perfection

Taking the time to hike along Fort Hunter this summer, that was a 'perfect' day.

Somewhere between the extended angle and twisted crescent pose, my yoga instructor said “Strive for progress not perfection.” And I immediately fell in love with the mantra. Before hearing this phrase on Tuesday, I would wake up with an arm’s length list of to-do’s that left me racing against the clock throughout the day and berating myself before bed if I didn’t get them all done. For far too long I defined a perfect day as getting everything done on this ever-growing list. But not anymore. Today I’m striving for progress not perfection. Even if I put only a few checks next to items on my to-do list I’ve had a productive day and should celebrate it. We shouldn’t let what didn’t do each day overshadow what we do accomplish.

This new outlook has also allowed me to be more flexible. Before, I would see everything I had to get done and refuse to budge my schedule. I would turn down meeting a friend for lunch or continue to work all evening, completely missing some great opportunities to be with those I love. I now realize that my goal for working toward that “perfect” day was to gain the free time that I would just continue to fill up with work anyways, I was missing these great moments as they flowed right by me because I was too busy to look up from my to-do list. If you spend your whole life working toward that perfect time to take a vacation or a perfect time to spend an evening with a friend, that time will never come. Instead, find a way to make progress each day and call it “perfect.”

 
11 Comments

Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Wisdom

 

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You Don’t Have to Change Everything—Just the Right Thing

A summer sunset on the riverfront in Harrisburg--I'm lucky to be here!

I can admittedly say that I am going through a mid-life crisis. Okay, a quarter-life crisis. Let’s not get hung up on semantics. In any case, I recently went through the undeniable feeling like I wanted to make a huge change in my life. Not a little “I’ll dye my hair” change—I seriously considered selling everything I own but a suitcase full of clothes, quitting my job, packing up Pinot and moving to Miami. This thought was terrifying but invigorating all at the same time; it provided me with the rush of excitement my life in Harrisburg wasn’t anymore. In hindsight I wasn’t so much craving the geography change (although I would never turn down a vacation to Miami), but it was more a deep desire I had to find my passion again.

When working on the Pennsylvania Governor’s campaign it was hard and thankless work. We were overworked, under paid and stressed out. Often we had to choose between sleeping and drinking and, well, the decision was obvious. But I hit my stride there. It was around August of ’10 that I was busy from the time I woke up until the time I hit my pillow—7 days a week. I felt productive, needed and like the work I was doing actually had an impact. Unfortunately, after returning to normal hours at a job within the Governor’s administration, I lost that stride. I had my evenings and weekends back, but I never did find that passion. I guess I thought that passion moved South and I was hell-bent on doing whatever I had to in order to get it back, even if it meant leaving everyone and everything I knew.

As a result, I turned my back on Harrisburg and closed my mind to the possibility that I could ever be happy here again—for a long time. Within just the past 2 weeks, I made one single decision that changed all of that. I chose to respectfully resign from my day job and pursue my Public Relations business, Bennis Inc, full time. Starting July 15th I’ll be my own boss, set my own schedule, and yes, try to make ends meet off of this less than stable income. It will be stressful, hard and thankless, but it sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking for.

I’m so grateful that I stepped back from the edge long enough to realize I don’t have to jump. I have friends in Harrisburg, family close by and business contacts that would take years to build anywhere else. I’ve kind of fallen in love with the city all over again and am open to making a business here and a home here. So to anyone else who feels like a quarter, mid or full-life crisis may be coming on—take a breath and step back. You don’t always have to change everything, just the right thing to be happy.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Wisdom

 

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