A Hurried Child
Wow! I just had a coaching session with Eva Sim-Zabka, and in under 10 minutes she got to the core of my complaint: “Everything takes too long!”
As a child I was called “slow as molasses,” particularly when it came to getting into the car.
In our family of 6, I was “always” the last one. It happened at the dinner table, too. After everyone was done eating and the dishes had been cleared, I would still be finishing my meal. So of course I was teased about being “slow, just like your Grandpa.” I actually took pride in being like my Grandpa because I loved his easy manner, but the criticism wasn’t missed.
When Eva said what she saw to me, “You were slow, and that was wrong,” my eyes filled with tears. She nailed it. Who I was was wrong.
As she helped me explore that thought without trying to fix it, I slowly began to see that slow wasn’t wrong and therefore I wasn’t wrong, I just thought so. That kind of belief is hard to see on your own, because it’s invisible. It just seems true. But in reality, slow is just slow and fast is just fast. Although you might like one more than the other, neither is right or wrong.
I remembered another important moment in my youth that related to that judgment.
I was at my desk working on my math homework, fully engrossed, oblivious of time, and happy as a clam. (Yes, I’ve always been a bit of a nerd). That places it in Jr. High, because when I was a kid, homework didn’t start until 7th grade. My dad walked in and with concern in his voice said, “You know, you won’t always have as much time as you want to finish things.” That one phrase, as well-intentioned as it was, shattered my world. I thought I was safe doing homework; I mean, come on, who criticizes a kid for taking time with math? And pow! There it was – I was wrong again!
A phrase my mentor Dr. Landreth used, “the hurried child” came to mind. Whether or not it was in reference to the David Elkind book about kids growing up too fast too soon, hurrying a child sounded like an awful thing to do. Eva picked up on that immediately and put it together for me. She said, “You were supposed to like being hurried.”
I burst out laughing! That was so true and at the same time so completely rediculous. Here I’d been spending my whole like trying to like being hurried. I WILL NEVER LIKE BEING HURRIED!!!
That was the breakthrough moment!
To explain: In the child’s black and white world, if slow is wrong then quick has to be right. You can’t like wrong things because they are “bad.” Likewise you should like right things because they are “good.” However, as a slow person, the only way to be “quick” was to hurry. So while my dad was trying to encourage me to find ways to work more quickly, all I heard was, “You need to hurry!” Particularly for a thorough perfectionist, hurrying is exhausting, fraught with error, and basically no fun… and I was supposed to like THAT!
Here’s the math nerd version of the breakthrough process: a wrong belief is basically a childhood experience collapsed with a concept. In my case, hurrying = quick. As a child, you know what the experience is (hurrying), but you have no idea what the concept is (quick). A breakthrough pops the two apart and gives you the chance to redefine the concept from an adult perspective.
So that’s where I am now. Redefining quick, and for that matter slow, as options – neither right or wrong. So in my work I’ve decided that what I want to do is to take my time developing materials and, when they are released, get quick results. It’s the best of both worlds!
Thank you Eva! You definitely did not take too long!!!
What are your thoughts and experiences of quick, slow, and hurried?