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Back in what seems like a previous life, I worked in a research based innovation company aiming to  bring rapid action to our projects and work approach. The idea being that some projects greatly benefit from simply doing. Using our hands, getting out of that head space, away from the over-planning, scheduling and analyzing. That sometimes when we just try something, give ourselves a short time frame to complete a task (even if the end result may not be a fully finished product and may not even be a tangible output) we can make greater strides forward. Discover things that may have otherwise been overlooked. Actually innovate rather than simply finding bandaid solutions and maybe even enjoy ourselves along the way.

This was our mission within our company – we called ourselves the rapid action agents – and we were really good at pestering everyone in the company with “silly” challenges and exercises.

Well just as I was getting really good at suppressing my type-a personality a bit and going with the flow. To do and learn from the process…I had a baby. And in some ways your world slooooowwwssss way down when you becomes parent. But although I felt completely overwhelmed most days for a long time (who am I kidding. I still do most days…) I found the rapid action approach became a tool even in parenthood.

Think about it this way. You are sitting in your living room. Holding your precious, sweet little daughter and out of nowhere you hear some rumbling and feel gooey sticky warm “stuff” dripping down your arm. Yup. You better start doing something (although sometimes you really can’t do anything but laugh). You can’t stand there and analyze the situation or figure out which type of material will work best to wipe up this mess. You better grab whatever is in your reach (even if this is your hubby’s favorite band shirt) and start doing SOMETHING.

There are many situations like this. And since none of us know what we are doing when it comes to parenthood, we have to learn by doing, step out of our comfort zone (A LOT), think quickly, experiment with what works and of course – learn from the process.

One of the most recent “little things” about parenthood that made me think about my approach to work and rapid action (hey, motherhood is really hard work, so I don’t know why I am surprised that there is overlap. Duh…) was a few weeks ago when I was trying to occupy my now 1 year old daughter for another 30 minutes before her nap time (glorious, glorious nap time).

We were sitting on the floor in her room playing with her building blocks. I try to tell her the colors and the shapes but somehow she always picks up the little orange star. She loves that orange star.

Anyway. The type A in me wants to build a tower. And I want to build the tower that stands up without tipping over, using all 6 different shapes.

So in true nature I start thinking about which shape should go on the bottom – clearly the square right..? It has the most surface area so that would make sense. Yes. Perfect. Ok, what next. Let’s try the circle. Oh yeah that’s working….wham. Here comes my daughter slamming the whole thing over with her little fist clutching the orange star…ok I think. Let’s try this again maybe that green cross will work well, that way it reaches out to four corners and can support whatever shape will go on top great. Now the square and the circle. And. Wham. The tower topples over even before she can get to it.

This goes on for a while. Until I realize I’m insane for sitting on my daughters floor and worrying about building a tower with the correct order of shapes and maximum strength.

Lessons learned:
A. Just play with your daughter.
B. Get out of your head.
C. You’ve got to teach your daughter to respect your anal obsessive irrational ways…

Well maybe not that last one. But here I was. Stuck in my head over building blocks (yes, building blocks) instead of playing and watching my daughter use these blocks the way she wants. And trying something simply because it popped in her head. Because baby’s don’t know any better than to just try. No analyzing. No over-thinking. No self-doubt. Just doing.

And just like that, she sits up with the biggest grin and hands me the orange star. Of course. The orange star. The damn orange star. It has 5 corners…

When my “logical” brain was over-analyzing which shape would offer the most support as the base, my 1 year old reminds me that sometimes we just need to go for it. Just go with our gut. Try something for the sake of trying it. Act. Play.