Monday, May 19, 2014

amy, who did things slowly

A few years ago I had this officemate named Amy. Amy was a short woman with a small frame, a kind smile and blond hair. But you could be fooled by that exterior because she had some heft to her. She communicated with insistence, like she knew what she needed and wouldn't back down until she got it.

Amy was also slow. I was always out of the office by 5, but she often stayed later, and I wondered what took her so long to finish up. After working with her for a while, I realized it was because she was meticulous and methodical. I had considered myself pretty good at details, but I was also fast. I like to tackle a job and get it done, so of course I missed things sometimes. For me, Amy gave "attention to detail" a whole new meaning. Amy and I hired student workers together, and even in that process, I missed things that Amy caught - a seemingly insignficant comment made during an interview, or a small detail on the application that signaled to Amy that this person did or didn't fit.

Though Amy was slower, when I compared our work, hers was often better. There were fewer mistakes, and she had a confidence and deep knowledge of what she'd just completed that I often lacked in my hurried-ness. Having the patience to do a task slowly was one of the biggest lessons I learned in that job.

The thing is, there are a lot of things in life that require patience. Being slow, waiting, giving full attention, making sure your bases are covered are important ways to go about things. I've started a list of every day activities that would be better accomplished with a bit of patience:

  1. caramelizing onions
  2. painting nails
  3. reading poetry
  4. staining adirondack chairs
  5. assembling ikea furiture
  6. washing dishes 
  7. ironing
  8. writing
  9. closing up my apartment before I leave in the morning
  10. choosing what I'll wear for the day
  11. listening to God
  12. giving friends advice
Feel free to add to my list. I'm going to try to do things more slowly this week and see what difference it makes.

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