“What is the hardest task in the world? To think.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Positive Quote: “What is the hardest task in the world? To think.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like this quote, it helps remind me that reacting before thinking is not easy. There are times when emotions can run high and one finds oneself reacting versus taking the time to stop and think before we do anything rash.

Have you ever heard the term “hot button” it is a topic that, if broached in a certain way immediately gets an emotional reaction from someone. It could be anything and it is personal to that specific individual. We all have these buttons; to me it is in the knowing that we have them and working to diminish their emotional impact. I also think some buttons will never truly go away, yet they can shrink in size to be less obvious.

I’ll share a button I used to have; it took some time for me to release myself from its emotional pull. When my children were smaller, I was in a role at work where I was on call 24×7 by forever. The phone could ring at any time; 2a.m., midnight, during dinner. When the phone would ring I might have to get online and start doing stuff. Some calls would last 2-3 minutes; others could last 8-10 hours. The longest one I had was from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. the next day; talk about a disaster. Well, my children would, daily, whether the phone rang or not, they would tell me that I wasn’t spending time with them, that I worked all the time. This was a huge button for me as I began to feel the guilt a parent does when we think we are not there for our children and have to choose between work and home life. It took me a little bit to realize that while my phone rang, it was not every night and not every call was severe. So, I started setting clearly defined boundaries, boundaries that were, for the most part, already in place, yet I verbally spoke about it to my children. I would say, I am not going to work; i.e. boot up my laptop unless I get a call and would work after I tucked the kids into bed to sleep. By reinforcing this it helped my children know that I was not working when I was with them. As for the on call part, I worked with my team and set some base guidelines on what type of issues I should be called for and to leverage the manager on call rotation that was put in place. This reduced my after hour calls significantly. It also helped me teach my children that unless there is an emergency, I focused on them and we talked about what a work emergency could be, it is hard to explain a data center outage in children’s terms, but it worked.

So, I will continue to work to focus on reducing my hot buttons and take the time to think before I react. Or at least to minimize the reaction and within a very short amount of time think and talk it out with people I may have reacted with.

What do you think of this quote?

Have a wonderful Wednesday.


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