And Then What?

I find myself facing a challenge many of my clients bring to the table.

It’s not at all unusual for the men I work with to want to know an outcome just as we’re beginning.

That’s human nature and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to see light at the end of the tunnel, of course…

Except looking for that light before one has even approached the tunnel entrance really is rushing things.

Let me throw another metaphor at you: Trains don’t usually jump off the rails because they’re going too slow.

And in a culture that places a high value on more-better-faster-now, getting there in a hurry is an ever-present temptation that, ironically, is often a contributor to what has a client get stuck in the first place.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with moving fast, there are a pair of impacts that can muck things up pretty quickly.

The first is a reliance on speed that can lead to a person slipping into unconscious autopilot mode.

The second, often a function of the first, is becoming numb to one’s impact and experience, rapidly going through the motions with little or no awareness of self, other or, in worst-case scenarios, both.

Sometimes, in the name of moving quickly, the train indeed leaves the tracks and things get messy. Fast.

While the common reaction is to move even faster, what’s more often called for is slowing down. Slowing way, way down.

Back to my clients and, at this moment, me.

With clients, I’m often asked about the steps that come way down the line, several steps beyond what they’re committing to doing next.

For one thing, if I (or anyone else) actually knew what would happen many moves down the line, we’d be bona-fide fortune-tellers and future-seers!

But the future remains a mystery, so that party gig is not going to be happening any time soon.

For another thing, there’s also that gnarly part of human nature that just wants to jump ahead, not bother with the heavy-lifting and get on with it, already.

You know – that stuff that had us leap off the rails in the first place.

More often than not, my men want to know what they can do with the awareness they have yet to build and the reflections upon which they have yet to reflect. (Often self-focused reflection and awareness.)

What typically has them want to skip this all-important step is a cultural tilt that elevates execution over introspection and tasks over understanding: The measure of anything comes down to its bare utilitarian value, what one can do with it.

Yes, I’m making a gross generalization here – and I’ve seen the pattern unfold again and again.

Because it was a lack of awareness that caused the problem in the first place, a continued lack of awareness just ain’t gonna help, now is it?

Systems and people grow by learning, not by simply checking off task-boxes.

Developing ever-deeper, broader levels of awareness requires that one slow-down in ways that allow what comes next, that thing that lives in the future, to be revealed.

Otherwise, asking “and then what…?” becomes the (almost) grown-up version of “are we there yet…?”

We all know how that goes.

And yeah, I really want to know what comes after this transition I’m in right now. And with more than a little help, support and love, I’m slowing down.