Stop, look and listen

My running buddy, ready to go!

My running buddy, ready to go!

Noon o’clock, time for a run. On go the tights, jacket, my winter IceBug running shoes, iPod and out I go. 6 degrees with a breeze on my face that feels almost like spring. I’m listening to Sprag Session (http://spragsession.com/) playing in my ears, and I’m pumping up the Escarpment hill with my most wonderful running companion, Lucy Blue.

When Lucy and I reach the top (and my breathing starts to slow down), I take a glance over my left shoulder…and come to a complete halt. The view I see are fields of white, green and brown, with the Toronto skyline in the distance. It is both elegant and peaceful, and takes my breath away.

Remember when you were a little kid and your parents taught you to “Stop, look and listen”? Why that thought came into my head, I don’t know, but since I was stopped, I thought I’d complete the steps by looking and listening.

I looked. Not just a glance, but a long, careful look. Then it occurred to me that I was only looking in one direction, so I took a few steps and turned 360 degrees. I not only saw Toronto, but I saw the red pine forest behind me, the snowy, gravel road ahead of me, and a red-tailed hawk that I would have missed if I hadn’t turned.

Just for fun, I crouched down to look at the world from a lower level – the level from which Lucy sees the world. The dirt on my shoes was much clearer (and closer), and I realized that she couldn’t see over the grass to see Toronto! Her line of sight was much different from mine, though we were traveling together.

I listened then. I could hear my own breathing, slower now, and that of Lucy’s. I heard the wind in the pines, and whistling call of a blue jay, almost like a summons for me to stand up and get moving. The sound of my steps, crunching in the muddy gravel, was louder than I expected. Lucy was ready to bounce and play again – she is such a joyous running buddy – and we headed west with a renewed sense of adventure.

I rarely stop when I am running. I tend to suit up and just go, letting the cares of the world slide away while I focus on form, breathing, movement. But my stop, look and listen session was a gift I gave to myself that made the entire experience a better one.

This got me thinking about my work, and how I need to spend more time stopping, looking and listening.  I have a tendency to try to work as fast as possible, to provide my clients with their outcomes as soon as I can. But there is a time and place for stopping mid stream, looking at the work to date, and then listening to the client, to my colleagues and my own conscience, to ensure I am providing the best quality work possible.

We are all so busy in our personal and professional lives that stopping sometimes is the furthest thing from our minds. But if you stop, only for a few moments, you can focus on things that are not in motion. You can see things from different perspectives, and find things you might otherwise have missed. You may appreciate those who travel with you a bit more as well, because you see and understand their efforts. Stop, look and listen. And learn.

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