Shift Speed (Issue 1055)

In which we are reminded to check in on ourselves, from time to time, and shift quickly if we’re off track.

I went for a walk this morning before the July temperatures rose into the mid-90s again. Through the Cambridge Common down to Harvard’s Memorial Stadium. 20 minutes. Walk the steps at the stadium. 20 minutes. Walk back to my house… I took the long way… An hour. A nice walk in the morning cool air.

Sometimes, I walk just to walk. On other occasions, and this morning was one of them, I walk with intention, checking in to be present and to work on posture and balance… Am I driving straight forward from foot to foot? How does each footfall feel? Are they quiet or noisy? Am I in balance? Is my head up? Are my shoulders back? Is my pace OK?

A few weeks ago, during an “awareness” walk, I turned from one street to the next in front of a coffee shop. As I turned right, I spotted what I discovered to be a 1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106 LeBaron Runabout Speedster… a gorgeous car! A work of art. Parked in front of it and behind it were two more-modern cars… a 1940 Ford coupe that had been tarted-up a bit and a 1939 Ford woody station wagon. A few men I guessed to be owners and friends were standing next to the cars, sipping coffee.

I stopped to admire the Packard. After circling the car a couple of times, drinking it all in, I spotted a guy with a Packard logo on his T-shirt. I smiled, caught his eye, and said, “ Good morning. Is this your car?”

“Yes,” he said, breaking away from his conversation.

“It’s beautiful. Do you show the car?”

“No,” he said. “Well, maybe a couple of times.”

“Are you a collector?”

“Yes,” he replied.

I thought to myself, “What’s happening in this conversation?” and it occurred to me that I’d asked three brainless closed-ended questions and he was answering them politely with all the respect they were due.

“What other cars do you have in your collection?” I asked, shifting to an open question.

“I have a Duesenberg, a Cord, a couple of Ferraris, a few Packards…” His voice trailed off.

“Those are wonderful cars! How did you get started?”

“My father started taking me to car shows when I was about ten.” Pointing generally toward the car, he continued, “He bought this one.”

So, this is like the point in a walk when you notice that you are still off balance or out of alignment and you need to fix something.

He wasn’t interested and I couldn’t add anything. I withdrew: “Thank you for speaking with me, I love your car, all the best.”

“Thank you,” he said offering a brief, polite smile and turning away.

During any walk, I drift off from time to time and my form slips. Also, many times in conversation, my form slips. While it’s best not to slip at all, the trick is, how quickly do we notice and how fast do we shift.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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