Weeds, Stop Signs, and a Good Deep Breath

"Prepare to Stop" SignMorning walk this morning. Grey wet day after last night’s rain. Everything is different from our normal sunny dryness and so I notice things I normally look right past.

A sign catches my eye and I am suddenly laughing out loud.  It says Slow Down.  “Yup, I sure need to do that!”  I think to myself as I notice that even at 6am, my mind is already racing with things to be done today.

I breathe deep. And as we share during our consultant immersion courses, I know that deep breath is my body telling me, “Ok, you can change things right now. What is possible here?”  We do that, have you noticed? When we are in the middle of something difficult or confusing, we take a deep breath as we are about to tackle the next thing. What a great signal that gives us!

With that breath, then, I asked myself, “The sign says slow down. What is possible here?”

From there, each step on my walk opened up a different answer, each one making me smile (some making me laugh out loud, there alone walking up and down my neighborhood streets.  What a sight I must be!)

A yield sign.  Wow, could we ever use that!  Given the conversations about collaboration that have been occurring at SocialEdge.org and at the Institute’s Facebook page, a yield sign might be just the thing as we consider the conditions that will lead to more community-wide cooperation.

A sign said, “Prepare to stop.”  I especially laughed at that one. It’s not enough in our lives to tell us to stop, look around, take that deep breath and consider what’s possible.  For most of us, life is so crazy, we need to prepare to stop – make an appointment to stop!  “I’ll get a massage next week,” or “I’ll try to find some time this weekend to just read the paper…”  Prepare to stop.  I loved that one.

And then I saw it – the clump of weeds growing furiously in the crack between the street and the curb. That clump of weeds might as well have been screaming through a bullhorn!

“I am tenacious. Nothing will stop me. Yeah, it’s asphalt and concrete – but I am growing with such fervor that they have a whole crew of city employees to try to stop weeds like me, growing in the cracks of the street. Hard as they try to whack us down, though, we keep coming back, keep growing.”

Suddenly this blog post wrote itself in my head. When we are aiming at what’s possible, we acknowledge obstacles simply as things we must find our way around.  As my friend and colleague Nancy Iannone told me yesterday, “When I find myself problem-solving, I am just as mired as my clients in all the reasons nothing will work. But the minute I start helping them reach for the vision of what’s possible, everything falls into place.”

If we set ourselves on a course that inspires us, we are those weeds. Nothing can stop us, and everything falls into place.

All we need to do is take a deep breath, slow down, and aim at what is possible.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

4 Responses to Weeds, Stop Signs, and a Good Deep Breath

  1. Weeds certainly have a single-minded focus on the essential! They are distracted by nothing else.

    Imagine if a weed said, “Jeeze, that sidewalk is pretty thick… I don’t think I can make it through”. In that moment, the weed is finished – it has lost.

    Why is it that we entertain what’s not possible more than we entertain what is possible?


  2. Nancy & John:
    Must share this morning’s walk adventure. Was in the “I don’t want to walk” mood but went because those are always the best walks. About 1/2 mile from home, a dachsund ran up to me in the street, playfully jumping up on me, clearly wanting to communicate.

    He had a collar but no tags. He was so sweet and playful, but clearly intent on telling me something. No matter what I did, he would not let me move past this one house. Not in any way aggressive, but just clearly saying, “You need to work with me here!”

    So I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked on the windows. No answer. I said to my new friend, “Well you just come with me, we’ll head to my house and figure this out.” I started walking, and he just stayed in the yard.

    So I went back. Went to the carport, knocked on THAT door until yes, someone answered, and yes it was his house.

    I have never had a dog so clearly tell me exactly what he needed, and be so sweetly insistent. “You will help me. I will tell you what I need, and you will help me.”

    SO cool!