Sometimes in a conversation, a word arises that captures its essence perfectly.
Yesterday was such a day, when in a conversation about what we were noticing, the common theme was that we seemed to be seeing is activity becoming a little more frantic, and a word emerged. Quickening. Perfect. “She quickened her pace, desperate to escape”; “her interest quickened”…..
That’s what we were noticing. People quickening in anticipation of something, but what? Easing of lockdown? The dangers inherent in it? What work would really look like? A return to the office routine? All of those I think, and more, some felt but unarticulated. Certainly a sense of preparation.
One of the features of the last year has been a reality of more available time for many. Less commuting, furlough, flexible working. What we have done with that time has been a choice – some chose to fill the day with meetings either for themselves, or for others, in an unfounded fear that somehow not being “seen” or physically present would mean less productivity. The opposite has proved to be the case. Some perhaps as a form of denial of the changes taking place. Some have chosen to study, to learn and reflect and see different possibility as restrictions ease – not always in the same place as where it started.
So, which quickening are you sensing – the one of interest and possibility, or the one of fear and escape back to normal?
We have a choice in how we respond to this sense. We can either let it chase us into blind activity, or we can harness it. To harness it we need, paradoxically perhaps, to slow down and reflect for a period and reframe both what has happened, and what is emerging.
The old normal of 2019 was a great market for instant, from instant coffee to instant solutions. Whatever we needed was there, prepackaged. Supporting doing over the slower process of being. Efficiency over effectiveness. Compliance over questioning. Reaction over reflection. Habits over Learning.
The last year has quietly dissolved all that. New possibilities are emerging with Spring, and we would do well to look before we leap back into old habits formed in a work system that was becoming obsolete long before Covid-19 gave it a helping hand.
If you feel a sense of quickening, sit with for a while. Are you going to respond to it, or harness it?
It’s an important decision.