Hurry Up and Slow Down!

“I am not this steeply sloping hour in which you see me hurrying.” Rainer Maria Rilke, German Poet

I am not hurrying even though I am in motion, constantly. I am managing my fear that everything I am supposed to be doing will end in my termination. The relentless pace of meetings and reviews hides the hopelessness I feel. Productivity trumps innovation; activity supplants creativity. My attention is not focused because my purpose is unclear. I have passion, but it mostly scares me these days. If I lead with passion and inquire about purpose, I’ll lose my job. Meanwhile, I am losing me.

Identity precedes productivity. The courage to be is rarer today than the impulse to do. This is not just an excursion into philosophical speculation. It is a fundamental principle of high performance.

Are we a Research organization with a capital “R” or a development organization that will continue to place our bets on short-term incremental improvements on products already in the market? A student with whom I spoke not long ago at the African Leadership Academy in Joberg described himself as “an Egyption from Cairo who is Muslim who is also African, though my skin is not black, who wants to be a global citizen.” He is actively claiming who is!

I am enacting the motion of working hard but am hardly working, in terms of my own deepest values. No matter! Management just asks for more. And I keep on keeping on.

Do you know who you are? Will you speak up? It does matter!