Tiramisu and running. Oxymoronic I know, but both unlikely sources of learning for me this weekend. Ordinarily and by definition, this blog is a place for me to record lessons I learn from books, articles, podcasts and other predictable springs of thought leadership material. Real, evidence-based, life-altering lessons. But today, if you’ll forgive an impromptu departure from the usual format, I’d like to talk about a couple of simple things I learnt from a mundane weekend at home.
It started with bonus tiramisu, gifted to us last night after a ‘process failure’ at the local pizzeria left my loved one waiting at the wood oven for a displeasing amount of time. Though I avoided this anguish, having stayed home to ‘set the table ‘ (read watch The Project), I accepted the unexpected dessert with glee. When the time came, I put half of the piece on a plate and we shared it teaspoon by teaspoon. Being the lucky girl that I am, I was given the last spoonful. I put the cake into my mouth and proceeded to scrape the life out of the plate, collecting the last scraps of creamy goodness. When I finished eating I realised that, in my greedy haste to gather an extra lick of cream, I had barely tasted that last spoonful. In trying to have more, I had forgotten to savour what I already had, which was a whole lot more than those extra scrapings on the plate. What a shame that was! I realised that in life, as in tiramisu, I often focus too much on what I can do or have next, while ignoring everything that I already have. From this I learnt that in work and life, we must remember to focus on what we already have, not what we don’t, so as not to miss the cake for the cream.
In a healthier turn of events, I hit the pavement this morning in pursuit of a nearby hill. It’s a short run to the base, followed by a steep but quick incline to the peak. The tree-lined track is a mix of stairs and straights, which I tackle with a run-walk approach. To counter my tendency towards the walk side of the equation, I select a tree in the distance and run towards it. These small but external goals propel me further, when my mind and body asks that I kindly stop. This morning was a reminder of what a difference it makes to tackle a steep hill, or any other challenge, by breaking it down into small goals. The act of reaching a goal triggers a sense of satisfaction, a good-feeling reward for your efforts. Lots of these along the road to a larger goal can be the very thing you need to keep going. Without small goals, we risk becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead, slowing down, stopping or even turning around without a taste of the rewards to come. Any runner or project manager will tell you that effectively setting and celebrating small goals is an important determinant of success in large tasks or projects.
And that, my friends, is two lessons I learnt (or re-learnt) from 24 hours of ordinary life.
Thought leader(s): Tiramisu, Red Hill