Slow Down – Vienna Waits…And So Does Your Task List


The past several weeks have introduced a new form of chaos in our lives. Safe to say, COVID-19 has impacted the work and home life of everyone. Amidst the anxiety, stress, and pressure, do you find yourself operating in a state of urgent response? I do.

As I spent the past week scrambling to balance work and family amidst the stresses of a global pandemic, I paused just long enough to catch one of my favorite songs on the radio. The words of Billy Joel’s “Vienna” struck deep:

Slow down, you crazy child

You’re so ambitious for a juvenile

But then if you’re so smart, tell me

Why are you still so afraid?

The lyrics of “Vienna” serve as an important reminder to me. From the onset of my career, I took off on a dead sprint. I was eager to please and driven to succeed. Eventually, I learned to “sharpen the saw.” As Stephen Covey recommends, I established habits to promote physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Ironically, such habits enhanced my engagement and productivity at work as well. (Of course, that is exactly what Covey would expect.)

In the midst of the current disruption to work and life activities, I recently found myself reverting to old habits. New stresses, fear, and uncertainty overtook me. I returned to a state of urgent response. I was stressed and exhausted. As a result, my productivity, creativity, and engagement waned.

Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?

You’d better cool it off before you burn it out.

You’ve got so much to do and only so many hours in a day.

Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit may be more important now than ever.

When do you pause? Are you present to the blessings of your life? Do you take time to experience joy? In your constant rush, are you ever truly efficient? Worse yet, do you sacrifice your well-being in response to seemingly urgent demands? What is the impact on your relationships, your health, your joy, and your productivity? Are you burnt out?

Slow down, you crazy child.

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.

It’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two.

Your mental, physical, and spiritual health and wellness is the key to sustained success personally and professionally. During this time, I encourage you to build new habits to “sharpen the saw.” Establish daily, weekly, and monthly routines to promote personal well-being. Practice gratitude. Exercise daily. Embrace your faith. Slow down.

And, as a leader in your organization, what can you do to promote wellness? Consider new rituals to embrace as a team. Encourage your team to pause daily amidst new work demands. Remind yourself and others that “You’re Only Human” – another great song by Billy Joel. Fight the fear, anxiety, and perpetual haste. Sharpen the saw and Ceek a Better Way®!

“When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?”

Reference: Billy Joel. “Vienna” The Stranger, A&R Recording, NY, 1977