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Stop Before You Have To
I watched Scott Stratten's TEDx talk this morning and I hope you stop for 15 minutes to do so, as well.
If you pay attention to what those around you are dealing with, you'll learn a lot. It's about more than paying attention, though - you also have to take seriously the fact that if something happens to them, it can happen to you just the same.
If the well-meaning and driven people around you are struggling with the effects of never stopping, there's a good chance that you'll struggle with it, too. Yes, I know you think you're different, but picking up a hot iron is going to burn your hand regardless of how strong or unique your hand is.
I struggle with stopping, too. I didn't stop this weekend when I should have. I pushed past the point in which I needed to get somewhere and sit down, and I paid for it - I was dragging Monday and Tuesday. It was only after I checked out mid-afternoon and acted as if I were sick that I started to recharge. The result: I was able to wake up recharged and ready to show up today. Had I kept going, I would have had to stop and recover for a few days.
If you stop before you have to, you decrease the likelihood that you'll have to stop because you have to. I share this with you because it's the truth and it's a hard pill to take even when it's your own medicine.
What I particularly liked about Scott's presentation was his awareness that it wasn't just about his going, but the fact that he was teaching Owen the very same thing. I'll push it one step further: he was teaching everyone who watched him that you just have to keep going.
Even more important is to realize the asymmetry of attention and imitation. The closer people are to us, the more they'll watch what we do. The very people we're most able to intentionally contribute to are the people who are most impacted by the unintentional consequences of our behavior. At a certain point, they walk our walk despite our talk.
Sometimes the best way to take care of your people is to stop and take care of yourself. Why wait until we can't tell them about the value of stopping when we can show them before we have to?
Learning to stop is hard, but, at a certain point, we have to move beyond crushing it or we'll find that's what crushed is not our competition, but the hearts and lives of the people we love the most.
Thank you, Scott, for having the courage to show us what happens if we just keep going. I hope more of us will take the time to practice stopping before we have to.