Jackie Wilson is the President and owner of a successful manufacturing company. She’s raising two young children, whom she often takes camping on the weekends. She also serves as a coach for their soccer team. Jackie has run at least six marathons over the last decade. She loves to bake cupcakes to share with her employees, friends and family. I’m one of Jackie’s friends, so I’ve consumed my fair share of cupcakes. They’re really good – so good that Jackie has considered starting a little cupcake shop on the side.
I have always been in awe of Jackie’s energy and enthusiasm for life, so last Wednesday I decided to shadow her and glean any tips or tricks from such a successful and assiduous person.
I should have known that this plan was a mistake, since I get a little dizzy even just keeping track of what she’s up to, let alone attempting to do it myself. At nine in the morning I was exhausted, my feet achy from keeping up with her breakneck pace. By lunch I was famished, though no amount of her delicious cupcakes could revive me. When her workday was over and her kid time began, I felt like I’d been left too long in the spin cycle of my washing machine.
As I eased my weary body into bed that evening, I tried to wrap my mind around what had happened that day. Despite my many and well-chronicled failures, I think of myself as a successful person. Yet I could barely last a day in Jackie’s shoes. What’s more, she didn’t seem phased by what I considered a hectic pace for a day.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized my mistake – I had tried to copy Jackie’s unique style, her rhythm, her stride. Although Jackie’s pace works for her, it didn’t work for me. Instead of imitating Jackie, I could have spent my time establishing and perfecting my own pace.
Faster isn’t always better. I may move at a different speed than Jackie, but my ideal business and personal pace allows me to be both productive and sane, energetic and balanced.
So I think I’ll leave the marathon-running to Jackie and take my slow and thoughtful morning hike along the eastern Sierra foothills instead. And that’s okay.