Rat Race

One of my voice clients recently confessed to her habit of “scurrying” – which I interpret as meaning rushing when there is no need to rush, going fast out of habit, and bringing a sense of urgency to non-critical things.

Oh boy.

I’m a scurrier-hurrier, too. It’s a family trait that I witness in many of my relatives. My brother Ross’s pace makes me look downright laconic. When I visiting him and his family over the holidays, he came down with a bug that made him feel lousy. As I watched him drag himself through the living room at a snail’s pace, it made me realize just how fast he generally moves.

I’ve been exploring the tension between anxious rushing and the joyful vigor of efficient work for a long time. I like bringing a little hustle to making dinner. It feels like dancing when I’m bringing some good energy to chopping, stirring, tasting, and cleaning up the dishes as I go. (Yes, I am that person.)

I know I grew up watching my mom strive for efficiency. She was raising three kids and working full time by the time I was in kindergarten. On top of doing that job, she handled all of the cooking, shopping, and cleaning without any support from Dad. Those were the norms of her generation. No wonder she was rushing.

I don’t have that kind of responsibility, but I am a self-employed sole proprietor who handles all of the details of the business on my own. I do high level work like coaching clients, creating training designs, and composing keynotes one minute. The next finds me running to the post office, updating my website, and booking airline tickets. Knowing how to hustle, juggle, and make rapid shifts comes in handy for this life I’m living.

Here’s what I’ve learned about scurrying. When I’m feeling pleasure and breathing, it’s a great thing. When I’m tight and anxious, it’s time to pause and downshift.

When I got in my car yesterday, the stereo spontaneously started playing a song through my phone. It does that sometimes – just offers a song without my asking. This time if was one of mine – “Rat Race” – a piece I wrote many years ago when I was struggling with the habit of haste. Given the conversation and reflection about scurrying, its unexpected appearance made me laugh out loud.

Take a listen to the song.  Meanwhile, I wish you pleasure and breath in whatever you do in 2017.











About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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1 Response to Rat Race

  1. Stanley Kipper says:

    Go head Barbara, good morning! Rat Race is me minus the bus…lol Made me bust out laughing and head to the coffee machine! A super way to start the day🎶 I thank you. Stan

    Sent from my iPhone


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