Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Value of Drive Time

When I made a shift in work environment recently, one of the benefits to the change was that I would not be driving 45 minutes, twice a day, four days a week. I certainly know people who have a longer commute, but the shift in schedule was a piece of how I saw myself creating time for what I wanted to be doing next. Essentially, my weeks were gaining an additional six hours over and above the 40-something hours I had been spending on the job.

It wasn't until I was driving extensively over the past week to rehearse with a bunch of talented high school musicians that I remembered how much I actually enjoyed my time on the road. Sure, I get frustrated at traffic from time to time, but more often I had been using the time to plan or work out details of various projects. Essentially, the drive time had helped me be efficient and insightful. When I looked at it from a new perspective, it wasn't such a great benefit to give up the commute.

This made even more sense when I took the Strengthsfinder 2.0 test online and read about the strength of being Strategic, my highest strength according to this particular evaluation. It said that Strategic thinkers need "musing time" to give their brains a chance to work on problems and challenges, coming up with the best course of action. In other words, my actual strengths were being engaged effectively because I had a commute. Take away the commute, and my brain isn't able to work things out as effectively.

It occurs to me that people often fall into patterns of behavior that tap into the natural strengths subconsciously. They might gravitate toward certain jobs or certain kinds of relationships without realizing that an area of innate ability is being directly by that decision. For me, I chose to work somewhere that required pockets of time that my brain could do something it does well. But I didn't choose the commute because it would engage an area of personal strength. At least not consciously.

Now that I know what works well for me, I can make those decisions more purposefully. I won't necessarily be inventing a daily commute, but I can schedule musing time into my day. Acknowledging what is true about my strengths gives me an opportunity to effectively seek out ways to engage my natural capability in what I am creating rather than trying to make things work the way they are "supposed" to. It's another way of trusting myself.

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