Friday 15 July 2011

Is it worth a second thought?

I have noticed a fundamental change in my behaviour since starting my sabbatical three months ago. I now think about things more before acting on them. This holds true for physical tasks, like reversing my car out of a parking spot, and mental ones, such as providing options to a friend with a problem to solve.

This change didn't happen over night. It emerged slowly over time like a rising tide or emerging sunrise. I only became aware of it when I caught myself pausing before responding to a question - I usually am a 'jump in with my first thought' type of person.

Is this a good or bad change? My vote goes to 'good'. I have found that quick responses, although necessary at times, can give you the opposite outcome than what you wanted. Like the time I was at the Singapore airport a couple of years ago. I remember furiously typing an announcement that needed to be posted before I boarded my plane, well after the 'last call' reminder came through the airport lounge speakers. By the time I was able to send the note, I was in a frenzy, shoving my still on laptop into my bag and grabbing my jacket as I broke into a jog to the gate. The gate numbers around me were in the high 30s, which was not a good sign given mine was in the low 10s. I remember starting to perspire and pant as I ran past the shops and booths, trying to avoid everything and everyone in my path. It seemed like an eternity until I could see the end of the terminal, which meant I was close to my destination. Or so I thought. I hadn't taken the time to look at the map or the gates that I ran by. In my haste to get to my gate as fast as possible, I ran past the corridor where it was located. When I realized my error I was out of breath, soaking wet and desperate. All I could do was backtrack as fast as I could (which wasn't fast at all). Fortunately, once I got to my gate I was greeted by an airline attendant's smile (and look of pity) and was able to board my plane.  I was lucky that time.

Phil's Run at Changi International Airport

My airport run is an extreme example of a high-paced environment where action can precede thought. When you think there is no time to spare, you can forget the carpenter's adage, 'Measure twice and cut once'.

Now, I am exploring the 'think twice and act once' approach. It may lead me to the outcomes I am looking for. It also may cost me a few opportunities by not moving as quickly as I have been in the past. For everyone, it's a choice you have to make. And like I am finding, things may be worth a second thought.


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