Donna has fond memories of roller-skating as a kid, so naturally, she wanted to learn to rollerblade as an adult. To celebrate her 60th birthday a couple of years ago, she bought herself a new pair of rollerblades. Last week she finally decided it was time to try them out.

After practicing in the local school parking lot, she declared herself ready for a larger challenge—to skate the 3 mile loop around Green Lake, one of Seattle’s beautiful urban lakes. About half way around the lake she was feeling smug about how well she was doing. Then she thought to herself: “I wonder if I should have learned to stop?” The next second she fell backwards with the full weight of her body on her left knee, which painfully folded beneath her.

Fortunately her sprained knee is mending. Icing it while lying on the couch has given her ample time to reflect upon the drama she created for herself and the family that had to take care of her.

As it turns out, there are many lessons to be learned from this experience and David has been tactful about not bringing all of them to her attention. One obvious lesson is the importance of learning to stop and observe the situation with as much truth and accuracy as possible (we call this assessing current reality).

The idea of learning to stop is essential in the TED* work (okay..…we don’t always remember to practice our own work!). The language we use is to “call a time out.” Learn to stop and ask yourself: “Where am I? Am I adding to life’s drama or am I empowering myself and others?”

Stopping and reflecting is contrary to our society where one-click buying is now the standard. Don’t stop and think about it–just buy it! We are surrounded with cultural norms that oppose the idea of being deliberate and thoughtful. “Get ‘er done” and move on to the next task is all too common. In other words, don’t stop and reflect. Just do it.

Donna now admits she did not stop and tell herself the truth or she would have realized that learning to stop is an important rollerblading skill. Seduced by her desire to finally try out her new blades, she wanted what she wanted and she wanted it now!

If you are avoiding stopping and taking a time-out before acting, these questions may be helpful:

  • Is there something you are sidestepping?
  • What do you hope no one asks you?
  • Where are you fooling yourself?

The impulse to have what you want can hide the facts of the situation. Donna actually persecuted herself by avoiding essential information about learning to rollerblade. When you do this, you will reduce your chances of success. Learn to stop, observe and tell yourself the whole truth. It will serve you well.

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