Monday, October 18, 2010

Pause…Rewind…Did you let life pass you by?

I took a lot of pride in being single-minded in my focus in the task on hand – I took terms such as persistent, tenacious, blinkered as compliments…heck I spent  three long years in sunny Santa Barbara being a “mushroom” in my office – only remembering to eat and sleep and the reason it worked was because I had an equally work-obsessed sibling and hubby in the same small town and (unfortunately!) in the same company…picture this…the three of us spending Valentine’s Day at a French restaurant Pacific Crepes arguing about some obscure technology (now I understand why they say three is a crowd)…the reality is that today's Work Culture encourages, rewards and motivates these kinds of perception and behavior and people move ahead thinking they are “success stories”.

Anyway with K2 making his entry, this Product Manager mother had to rethink her priorities…work smart and better time management and rigid adherence to time spent with K2…did not mean work did not get done…products still got shipped on time, within scope and budget and blowing every product aspiration and expectations…however I did not obsess about responding to every email or every so called critical in the next minute…this worked in my favor because some stuff figured itself out in due time and the other stuff I figured out in good time. Now I walk the trails, smell the fresh air and look at the tranquil bay with K1 and K2…not taking the next day for granted…grateful for being given a chance to actually pause and enjoy…
What brought about this entry….a forgotten email forward from a year ago which was read for the first time today and which resonated and hence the share -

A man stood at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand seven hundred people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This was a real story posted by Washington Post…we have socialized ourselves out of enjoying the fresh balmy breeze, the fluttering birds, the little frisky chipmunk, the smiling neighbor next door…the concerned friends and of course the famous musician…very preoccupied with career and life choices and before we know it life passes us by…pause…rewind…what is your next move?

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