I know that the Tortoise and the Hare fairy tale teaches that the turtle will win the race against the proud rabbit with consistency and perseverance.
However, if the rabbit were disciplined, his speed would overpower the turtle. There is not anything the turtle could do to increase his speed. His legs are only so long, and his stamina is only so strong.
We all have an internal pace that makes us similar to the turtle and the hare.
Some of us are revved up like a sports car. We walk fast, talk fast and think fast. Everyone around us knows that even our idle speed is fast.
Others are more like a Prius automobile whose motor purrs at a constant pace. These steady-paced people might not get to the finish line the fastest. However, they will continue to persevere at a consistent pace.
In the past two years, we have witnessed the pace of the world change from a fast clip to a screeching halt. Overnight, my 2020 calendar went from fully booked to completely free. Events were canceled because of the world-wide request to socially distance.
In the past few weeks, we have switched gears again. Overnight we went from a steady, distanced society to a fast outgoing pace again. Most mask mandates and social distancing recommendations were lifted. Many people are excited to return to a full social schedule.
How are you adapting? How are people around you accepting this change of pace again? In the past two years, we have created new systems and habits to adjust to the slower world.
Our homes are furnished with office space and equipment to work from home successfully. We have invested in personal PPE (personal protective equipment), such as designer masks. Our social proximity behaviors have adjusted to keep a 6-foot distance when interacting with others.
Many people have found it challenging to turn on the speed again. It has been a struggle to discontinue our pandemic habits. Even though we were not happy to create these habits when the pandemic began, we did adapt and figured out our new systems.
Children and adults are struggling. New anxiety is surfacing in the school lunchroom and grocery store lines.
My friend shared that her fifth-grade son came home a few weeks ago frustrated that both sides of the lunch table are filled with classmates. The day before, he ate lunch with no one across the table from him. Now he has five friends intruding on his 6-foot personal space.
I found myself trespassing on a fellow shoppers’ space while waiting in the checkout line. After this shopper glanced at me a few times and inched themselves farther away from me, I realized the issue.
These reactions all make sense when you understand behaviors. The majority of people in the world (about 75%) are steady-paced people. Most people are like a Prius who prefer to run at a steady, consistent pace. It is easier for fast-paced people to slow down than steady-paced people to speed up.
Please note — it is easier for fast-paced people to slow down, but it is not always easy.
Two years ago, when the world came to a screeching halt, more people embraced and possibly even enjoyed this change of pace. I tend to be a fast-paced person; however, I did enjoy slowing down a little.
I enjoyed watching kids play outside in the evenings, the food-truck neighborhood get-togethers and conversations while on walks with other exercisers.
Typically, I rarely see children or families in the neighborhood in the summer. The kids are involved in activities, and families travel to keep up with the schedules. I am not home either because of a purposeful travel schedule. I enjoyed the change of pace for a time.
We have created a reserved, steady-paced world and are now unleashing all options again and expecting specific actions to speed up immediately. That is not easy for 75% of the world. Even though most people want to get back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, they do not like change, even if it might be good.
Flipping a switch and saying “anything goes” will create emotional challenges. It is easier for us to go into the pandemic than come out of it.
Yes, we want the pandemic over, but we need to be aware of behaviors in ourselves and others. We need to adjust our approach to this change to run with others rather than run ahead and pull others along.
What can we do to be intentional as we advance?
We cannot beware until we are first aware. Remember that most people you interact with need time to change gears. Adjust your demands and expectations for all speeds.
Be nice and forgiving to people. Forgive people who have surprising reactions to new rules. You might even react in a way that surprises you. We are all in the process of changing our habits again.
Be non-judgmental. We do not need to be rude to people who choose to continue wearing or not wearing their masks. We do not need to share our opinions with those who choose to travel or continue to stay home. No judgments.
Offer guidance to others as we all work through change. Add extra time into your plans and schedules to accommodate this change of pace.
Remember, it is easier for fast-paced people to slow down than steady-paced people to speed up. Through consistent perseverance, we will catch up to our speedy friends. We can all win this race together.