“Let’s talk about it in September”. Unbelievably, this is a phrase you can start hearing in May in business meetings in France.
If you want to suggest a new project to a client or a business partner, if it is not back off their desks by the end of May, very often you get stuck in limbo until after August. It is as if it was impossible to do important and meaningful work in July and August, when many of the French take vacation. To me, it seems as if these two months have become the excuse for not taking any important decisions at all in the middle part of the year.
This makes no sense. None. Apart – perhaps – from in the mind of the eager French holidaymakers.
It seems that no one is counting the cost to the country. By putting off meaningful decisions for 3 months of the year, we lose 1/4 of a year!
I love France, the country I’ve chosen as my home for the past 25 years. But I did grow up in Germany, and the phenomenon doesn’t exist there.
I could – if I was to accept things as they are – shut my business for those three months, but for two years in a row the month of July has been my most productive month. Why? Because I don’t believe in the ‘rule’ about putting off all decisions!
Here’s a question for you: what if a country (it shall remain nameless) that has been teetering in and out of ‘La Crise’ for nearly 30 years suddenly added 3 months to its working year by becoming more willing to make decisions all year long? What might that do for the mood, for job creation, and for its international competitiveness?
I’m driving in Paris, looking for a parking spot. I lose my bearings for a moment, miss the U-turn I should have taken and have to turn right instead…which leads me into a huge traffic jam!
When I finally arrive – very late – for my dinner appointment, I share my tale of traffic woe and one of the people in the group shares her secret recipe for navigating in Paris: « When in doubt, turn left! » – ‘What nonsense’, I think. ‘That would have worked this evening, but surely not every time…!?’
But since that evening I’ve been applying her rule religiously. Whenever I am not sure of which way to turn, and run the risk of wasting time over a decision when driving, I turn left. Strangely, it works like magic: the chances are still 50/50 that I get it wrong, but I have taken a decision. Or, another way of saying that, I’m not stuck in indecision.
I am not afraid of taking a bad decision these days. I just admit I got it wrong and do what I can to fix it. In doing so I have lived based on Mandela’s advice about getting stuck : “You cannot lose: either you win, or you learn something”. Today, I prefer learning something instead of wasting time in hesitation.
And you? Are there some unmade decisions in your life that are keeping you from what awaits you in your future?
Personality tests, like MBTI for instance, often offer some sense of whether you have preference for being an ‘extrovert’ or an ‘introvert’.
Before I understood what that really meant, I thought those words described whether you were on the talkative side like me (☺), or whether you were more on the shy side.
I’ve since learned that my definition was too simplistic.
In fact, being talkative – or not – isn’t the defining feature of extraverts or intraverts. What those words were meant to describe was the way different individuals charge their batteries. There are those who recharge in contact with others (extraverts) and those who need to be alone to gather strength (take a wild guess…). This means someone who seems like an extraverted talker might actually be an introvert who needs time alone on the top of a mountain to re-energize, and that someone who seems quiet can actually be an extrovert who needs the presence of others to resource themselves.
Independent of whether you have an extrovert or introvert preference, what is important is that you know how you will use the summer months to charge your batteries. For my part, I’ll be indulging my introvert for two months so that I can be come back and regale you – in extroverted fashion – with inspiring bubbles in September.
A year-end show always marks the end of our dance class. Taking great pride in my achievements, I showed the video of our performance to a friend. His comment was: Why isn’t anybody smiling?
Offended, I watched the video again and realized that he was right. We were so focused on our routine that we forgot to smile!
During our last club party, we had a second chance to dance for an audience. But this time I was ready. I smiled from ear to ear and shrieked with pleasure every once in a while to make the others smile. The magic potion had worked: technically, we were less precise in our steps. But on the applause meter? – unbeatable!
So here is what I take away from this: The first time, I did my routine with the intention to achieving perfection in my steps.
The second time I went out there to have fun … and to show the audience that we thoroughly enjoy ourselves when tap-dancing. My intention had changed my perception, my performance and, most of all, my positive impact on others (my ultimate purpose!)
What about you? – What are your intentions after summer vacation? What is your ultimate purpose?
In Canada “pourvoiries”*, or in English outfitters, are great places to get away from city noise and chill out by a lakeside.
No phones, no Internet. No choice but to appreciate what’s right there in front of you. Trees as far as the eye can see, bird songs, clouds floating lazily across a steel blue sky and the sun gently warming your skin.
All stress gradually fades away and doing nothing is no longer a crime but a positive decision to appreciate what is around you, right now.
What if we put up a “Gone Fishing” sign on our door from time to time to signify that doing nothing is actually about making the conscious decision to appreciate the present moment?
The perfect way to prolong the beneficial effects of our holidays!
*The term “pourvoirie” (translated in English as outfitter) is rarely used outside of French-speaking Quebec. It refers to an area of forestland, usually with a lake, leased for 99 years by a “pourvoyeur” or outfitter, and is used for renting out chalet accommodation and offering other leisure services to customers.