Have you noticed how BUSY you feel all of a sudden? …And, doesn’t everyone around you seem to be sooo BUSY too?
Welcome to one of the most busy times of the year! Everyone is buzzing around (including me) with our year-end chaos and holiday shopping and travel plans just like…well…just like busy bees!
But unlike bees who work round the clock in tandem with hundreds of other bees and systematically build hives, spread pollen and make honey, most humans cannot truly say they are productive in all their ‘busy-ness’. For example, I stood in line at the post office for 40 minutes to mail a package only to return the next day to stand in line again to buy a special size box to mail a second package which I then had to get back in line once I bought the box to actually mail the package! Efficient? NO! Busy? YES!
Maybe our lack of productiveness is the result of not having a Queen Bee who serves as a supervisor, to synchronize our activities and eliminate wasted effort. In the hive, the one who has all the power and perspective does not buzz, she just ‘be’. Her ‘be’-ing inspires the buzzing which gets the work done, at a steady pace.
Like the Queen Bee, people who are productive and prosperous have pace, rather than busy-ness. Their steady and excited (but not frenzied!) intensity keeps others around them buzzing with the juice of their game.
My friend Mandy who is a self-made millionaire has the ability to turn everything into play. Even going on a diet, planning an outfit, or making a meal takes on a high stakes, playful intensity. She has pace. And her pace works for her! Being around her I notice the difference between my pace and hers. I up the stakes in my game after just 5 minutes with her!
New research in education shows that the principal of pace without pressure and action-based learning works better in the classroom too. Neuroscientist Adele Diamond and teacher and educator Chris Biffle have proven it in their work. Here you can see a video of Biffle with his Whole Brain Teaching style. He has revolutionized what happens in classrooms across the U.S. by bringing a fast-paced, game environment into teaching.
Methods of these two thought leaders clearly engage a student’s attention (a.k.a. their pre-frontal cortex) allowing for better learning. An environment becomes active when it resembles a game. An active learning environment gets the kids’ attention…more so than a passive learning environment, where a child is expected to listen and memorize content. What also works in Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) is the instruction to ‘teach your neighbor what you just learned’ which turns the meaning into an action. Action is what creates a memory, according to Diamond. She says, “The act teaches you the meaning of the act. The doing will transform you.”
My sons and I had an example how this works. They had been taking piano lessons for several weeks and were struggling to learn the symbols (ie. rest, quarter note, etc.) Their teacher instructed them to do exercises in a workbook to learn it but they still just weren’t getting it (or so we thought!) after several weeks.
At the end of last week’s lesson, the teacher wrote out about a dozen different symbols on separate 3 X 5 cards. He handed them to me as we were leaving and said to use them to practice. At first I just held them up for the kids to say the names like flashcards. We all soon were bored with that because it took forever. So, I got out the stopwatch, laid all the cards on the table and told the boys to call out whichever ones they knew as fast as they could, and I would snatch each card up when it was identified correctly.
I said “Go!” and all of a sudden they were totally engaged! They called out answers and knew almost every single symbol! Even with the cards that stumped them, they racked their brains with complete focus until they came up with an answer. I was amazed at their sudden interest and desire to display their music symbol knowledge!
When every card had been picked up, I stopped the watch and told them their time. Of course they wanted to beat their time so we laid the cards out again and started the timer. We did this three more times and would have continued if we didn’t have to stop for dinner. At their next lesson the teacher asked if they did their homework and both excitedly reported the meaning of every single symbol and exactly what it looked like FROM MEMORY!
To conclude, while it is tempting to get caught up in first an unconscious busy-ness prior to the holidays and then a slow slump once they are over, you don’t have to do it! You can choose your game, choose your pace and play with the intensity that works for you! Post-holiday blues can be enlivened by picking up a side project, learning about a new subject or reading an inspiring book (I’ve included my list of favorites below!). For your holiday do you want the illusion of productivity by being busy or do you want to set the pace like a Queen Bee? You choose, it’s up to YOU!
“The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire“, Deepak Shopra
“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience“, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“Loving What Is“, Byron Katie
“The Four Agreements“, Don Miguel Ruiz
“How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci”, Michael Gelb
“Crush It!” Gary Vaynurchuk
“Making Contact“, Virginia Satir
“The Geisha and the Gorilla: How to Talk to Men” Mia Sage
“The Wonder of Boys” Michael Gurian
“Spark” John J. Ratey, MD