Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's About People

Similar words, from a couple respected people within the span of a few days, have caused me to think pretty deeply about the modus operandi and result of actions that people take. Previous to the wise words of these respected people, my easy answer would have been something to the tune of "my actions are usually to further an element of my career," or "to get everything done in time," the later being particularly true when it comes to how I operate on a daily basis.

My triggers to think about this came from advice in two different scenarios - the first from a satisfied reader of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and the second from a discussion about a dance piece centered on the idea of how, at the metaphorical end of the day, life is really about people.

While I have not yet had the chance to read the afore-mentioned book (though I plan to now), I did connect right away to the choreographers explaination for how she arrived to this conclusion, and why she wanted to showcase it in a dance. In explaining the piece, she started by saying that it is all too easy for one to get caught up in the obstacle course of daily life. Though the course changes form with each phase of life, offering new challenges with each new chapter presented, there is one constant; there are always too many important things to get done on time, in order to stay on top of things and be successful.

The key to analyzing this assumption is pondering what it is that drives us to get these too many things done. Yes, 'too many things' was followed by 'to get done on time' and 'to be successful.' This is where I haved stopped in the past, in trying to figure out why I operate the way I do. Go further. Why is it important to get things done on time and be successful?

First, I draw up the idea that these things are important because we think that what we achieve individually validates our existence as humans, our purpose for being on earth. However, this is not specific to you alone, one person at a time. A factor of what makes the world truly interesting is how we are all connected to each other in some way - My purchase of coffee beans creates revenue for farmers in Ethiopia, that farmer in Ethiopia is then able to invest in cellular technology developed in India, so on and so forth. Though my example is strikingly similar, I am not talking about glogalization here. I am talking about how our personal actions, in the long-run, really are about how we relate to other people, and the importance of those connections.

I'll make the scale a little less worldly - this time, I'd like to suggest that the quality attention and intention you invest in your interactions with co-workers is just as important as the quality you invest in completing a project. Or; the quality you invest in interacting with a loved one is just as important as getting the house clean. When it comes down to it, the house, pending fire or other disaster, will always be there, but your loved one will not. I do not say this in a way that suggests people are important only because they have a shelf-life. Rather, our abilities to interact with people in ways that we cannot with a broom are precious, and should not be overlooked or sidelined due to tight scheduling.

This idea is something that I can easily and joyously understand, but will be a challenge to put into action. I thrive off the necessity of getting numerous things done in a simultaneous fashion. In fact, a big ponder last month was whether or not I create tasks to make myself feel like I am on top of things and going somewhere. These things said and considered, I do not desire to cut out any current projects from my life; after evaluating, I realized that I really DO want to be doing nearly everything I am doing, outside of tasks that are simply necessity for sustaining of life (i.e. day-job-to-make-enough-money activities). Despite being happy with the fullness and variation of objects on my plate, I have realized that it could be beneficial to reconsider how I go about . . . eating them?! Ok, cryptic, stick-to-the-analogy tools aside, I have realized that I could be more conscientious about how I interact with people.

In my heart, I am fully aware of the fact that people are the true driver of what I do, but that idea often stays a bit buried when I am trying to accomplish a task. In other words, I have a tendency to sideline people or rush through an interaction without noticing because I am so focused on the task at hand. After being triggered by two respected people to think more about this, I plan to be more active in supporting quality within my interactions as they happen. While I have never had difficulty expressing how grateful I am for support and interactions I experience after they happen, I could stand to be in the moment more on such things (well, most things, really :) ).

How will I do this? Unfortunately, there is not an instruction manual (that I know of, anyway), because I would sure love that. However delightful a manual would be for me, this one is the kind of idea that seems to be different for each person to put into practice. I am going to begin with the simple idea of trying to be actively conscious of how I interact with people, and I will go from there.

My 'at heart' understanding of how anything I do, though filtered through the achievement of personal success, is really for the purpose of connecting with and supporting my loved ones and people in general. In my case, the teaching, performance and creation of dance are conduits for the development and passing on of my ideas about the world, most of which are meant to reach out to people and ask them to see and feel the world more actively as they live in it. Hopefully, after having pondered all this, I can work toward always treating my daily interactions with as much purpose as I do the consideration of and acting upon my internal drive. When it comes down to it, these two concepts share a common source; people.


Ginny the Sock Monkey said...

Good blog. Lots of stuff to think about!

I think this may be why I am currently struggling, and why I constantly struggle with my desire to travel, why it is hard to unearth yourself too many times. I believe some people are better at this than others, and I'm definitely trying to figure out right now if I am the kind of person who is good or bad at that.

Because it IS about people, and because I am also beginning to realize that it is about people, it makes it that much harder to figure out whether to stay or whether to come back "home" to my people in Minneapolis.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes.

Moving too many times makes me lose my sense of a guiding compass because the people that I love are spread so far around me that I can't seem to get a good reading of where I am supposed to go.

This is probably why people "settle down". Not because they are supposed to, but because they have to pick a location in order to know where they are going.

Very interesting thoughts, Erinn. Thanks for the blog!

Адам said...

Fantastic post, E, and I can only nod very animatedly in approval of everything written in the comment right above my own. It's one of the reasons I accept my frequent use of Facebook, which helps me keep in constant contact with people so far .. however, this hyper-Facebooking makes those more meaningful, thought-out letters (even e-mails) much less frequent. Frequent face-to-face contact is still the very best way to truly deepen and expand your relationship with other people, and it's this realization that makes the kilometers in-between seem so long.

Erin+n Liebhard said...

Thanks for the words, kids. It is always nice to know that people you respect are feeling similar currents.