Sabbatical lessons 2: From Rush to Reset

Spring 2021 is in full force. Redbud, dogwoods, and azaleas vie for attention. I return to a world that is the same and so different from when I began my sabbatical seven months ago. Then my FOMO (fear of missing out) was high. The summer of racial reckoning was waning, the elections were heating up, and clients were on important change journeys. Still, I thought it better to be ready to serve than too depleted to contribute.

Life had become like rushing through a meal, eager for next without tasting this bite. Eating by the clock and not noticing when I was full. Isn’t that the same at work, in meetings, and in too many relationships? Always eager to get through something so we can move to the next as though this meeting, this person, this project was not what we rushed to. Repeatedly not giving moments, people, or projects the focus they deserve.

Sabbatical allowed me to reset. I put on life’s plate just enough and rested after rushing. I tended to interests like writing that I had let languish. It was a test of trust that busy-ness would not cease because I stepped away and, more challenging, that I could reenter once sabbatical ended.

As I return, much has changed. The elections ushered in a moment of possibility we might yet extend—or not; COVID19 has changed the shape of much work and play and revealed inequity hiding in plain sight, several vaccines are available, and one police officer has been found guilty of killing a Black citizen.

And much remains the same-it was only seven months, after all.

  • Inequality is sustained by callous policy
  • White supremacy is an organizing principle
  • More mass shootings kill “others” the shooters can’t tolerate
  • Xenophobia and scapegoating remain
  • Political point-scoring dominates problem-solving
  • Partisanship is prized more than statesmanship
  • The wish for “back to normal” belies resistance to reality

Sabbatical provided perspective, rest, and renewal. It was a chance to feed the spirit and build a skill. Others might use it to complete a demanding project. In the end, a sabbatical builds one’s capacity to do the job. Or as Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”

I return refreshed to support leaders and organizations to experience, understand, and self-direct enterprises that are life-affirming in their ends and means.

  • What are you rushing through?
  • What would you reset if you could?

Heather

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