I know – common sense, right? You’re probably shaking your head right now, thinking “oh, that poor girl has finally lost it. One too many things has gone sideways, and she has fallen right off her rocker.” Well, not quite – stick with me for a minute.
Little background first. As part of my professional development, I have been working with an executive coach, and the first step was an online Personal Style Indicator. You know – one of those online tests where they give you 4 words, and you need to pick the one that most describes you.
So, I did this, and really, the results were not a surprise. Turns out I’m very independent and ambitious. Both good words, right? I hear that and think, “huh. I’m ok with that.” These are some of the things that they said about independent and ambitious people:
- Independent people can be very strong in getting the job done in a brilliant manner.
- People like working with the independent styles because they have high standards and strong predetermined courses set for taking action.
- Independent people get results.
- You can count on ambitious individuals to take on a project, to complete it on time and to hold themselves accountable for achieving a high standard of performance.
- Ambitious people are generally intense, highly motivated people who are also conscientious and dependable.
Yeah, baby. That’s a good list. I like it – I can own all of that quite happily.
But that’s not it. There was more.
- People with the independent style can be too quick and critical with people, often at the expense of good relations.
- Independent people tend to be intolerant and impatient with others who are slow or with those whose work is not of the highest quality.
- To succeed and achieve important positions in life, independent people often avoid situations where they might be wrong or lose face in front of others. They tend to want to build an image or mystique of flawlessness, and to do this they often choose to work by themselves and control the presentation of their work to others.
- Ambitious people are so preoccupied with getting tasks done and achieving successful results that there isn’t much room left in their lives for building and maintaining close personal relationships.
- Under stress, ambitious people can see others as obstacles to solving problems quickly and can often perceive others to be the major part of a problem that is causing them stress.
Unfortunately as easily as I could own the first list, this second list also describes pretty well. This brings me back to my first statement about the pedestrians.
The other day, I was driving back to the office to meet with Murray, my executive coach. I had been across town at a lunch meeting of fundraising professionals, and was late. I was so frustrated with myself for being late, and of course traffic was being just stupid. I was trying desperately to get down 3rd Avenue as quickly as I could, and the thought crossed my mind that it wasn’t worth getting into an accident. So, I forced myself to focus on driving, and not on hurrying. I was actually telling myself “look for pedestrians, look for pedestrians”, trying to calm myself and slow myself down.
As Murray and I worked through the different personal styles, I realized that what I had been telling myself while driving down 3rd Ave. actually really applied to my life in general.
Don’t run over the pedestrians. Don’t run over those in life who are just trying to cross into your life.
You know, people are messy. People take time. People take emotion. People hurt. Getting involved with other people has the potential to be one of the most painful things ever! But it also has the potential to be the most rewarding.
God has designed us to live in community. I don’t know if anyone ever told Simon & Garfunkel they missed the mark, but none of us are supposed to be an island. While they were right in saying that friendship causes pain, we all do need friendship.
This is what God has to say to us about community in Romans 12:9-13:
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
That’s a big list. Be ready to help others. Be eager to practice hospitality. Really love others. Don’t run over the pedestrians.
Thinking about all of this brings me back to when my kids were little, and then just wanted to show me something they had made, but I didn’t have time. I was very busy, doing very important things, and I couldn’t stop to look at a Lego tower. Ran right over those little pedestrians.
Or maybe it’s the person who was sort of hanging around in the church foyer, looking like they had something to say to me, but I didn’t have time to wait, so I just smiled, said “Have a great week!” and went on my way to my very important things. Yup – another pedestrian casualty.
Maybe it was my husband saying “hey, can you help me out with something a minute?” and I looked and thought “gosh, I don’t have time for this. I have my own things to do.” Nailed another one.
Or the volunteer who stands inside my office door chatting, and I’m still working, because obviously I have many important things to do, so I can multi–task, right? I can listen to her, plus still get stuff done. But am I really listening? Am I really giving her a chance to share her heart, to unload what she wants to talk about? Nope. Another one down.
How many pedestrians do you run over in a day? A week? A month? I don’t want to think about it. How many times have I gone about my day, treating those around me as a hassle, as just more time spent, as something I don’t have time for? Far too often.
So this is what I’ve got – don’t run over the pedestrians. Look out for those who are crossing into your life, those who God is bringing into your path. Stop and don’t only wait for them – join them. Really join them, because you have know idea what you’re going to miss if you don’t.