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Waiting for What You Want

25 December 2012

Allison read Olivia Helps with Christmas to her niece and nephews and commiserated about how hard it is to wait for what you want.

Tags: allison read, animation, children's book, leadership, martha beck, picture books

I spend a lot of time helping individuals and organizations figure out what they want. We also talk about whether or not what they want is actually what they need (thank you, Rolling Stones). Once they’ve got clarity on their goals, we get busy coming up with a plan to make their dreams come true (that sounds a little like a fairy tale, but I’ve been with my 7-year old niece so I’ve got magic on my mind).

After many years of supporting this process, I’ve learned that one of the most important parts of getting what you want is figuring out how to wait patiently while changes take place in you, others and the world around you. But as lots of kids would have told you in the last few weeks, waiting patiently and pleasantly is really hard to do. Kids and grown-ups alike want what we want NOW!

My friends, Chris and Heather, first introduced me to Olivia when their son, Nash, was two (he just turned nine this year). I started buying Olivia books for my first nephew right away and now all three of my brother’s kids are steeped in the lore that is Olivia. There’s often a new Olivia book for Christmas and birthdays unless we’re waiting on author, Ian Falconer, to get the next one written. (I bet writing them is even harder than waiting for them).

Olivia is a pig. She’s a bit sassy, super creative, bold and courageous. She’s also a cheerful, supportive friend and family member. She struggles with the naughty / nice line, often getting into trouble and needing a gentle nudge from teachers, parents and friends to help her behave. She’d tell you she’s a natural born leader and I’d have to agree.

In Olivia Helps with Christmas, you’ll be reminded that when you’re trying to wait it’s a good idea to distract yourself and see if you can help other people with what they’re doing. This is true for goal setting, too. I believe you should write down your goals because research shows that people who actually write them down have a better chance of making them happen, and I really like the process Martha Beck recommends for making a better wish. However, once you’ve followed Beck’s advice or some other goal-setting process, I think you need to put your goals away. Don’t look at them or even think about them every day even though some experts will say you should. Instead, check your progress every few weeks or months. In addition to coming up with some ways to pleasantly distract yourself, you can also do a some things to make sure you’re prepared. Olivia doesn’t let her dad build a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve and neither did these kids (thanks to Greg Brozenske, founder of Un-Reality.com, for such a fun 90-second animation).

But at the end of the day, you may have to steel yourself for a little anxious waiting. Make sure you’ve got friends or family members like these to wait with you because company makes the waiting a little less lonely.

I’m grateful that my niece and nephews always help me enjoy anticipation and waiting rather than just trying to grit my teeth until I get what I want (or, hopefully, what I need). Thanks very much, George IV, Kathryn and William, for all you teach me about how to live a better life.

p.s. Nine-year old George’s Christmas present to me this year was reading all of my blog posts since I committed to writing every Tuesday on 29 May, 2012. He knows it’s been a hard goal for me each week so he read them all and wrote a story for me about what he learned from the post about Professor Lego. His review is one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten and now I’m a little more confident that with his encouragement that I can stick with my goal of blogging every Tuesday. Thanks for being on my team, George.


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