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Vail Valley Voices: Making time when too busy

Connie Woodberry
Vail, CO, Colorado

I am an unashamed “Dr. Who” fan. I didn’t grow up with one of the longest-running programs on English television, but as an adult, I have come to appreciate the wonderful writing and the universal concepts that have been explored through the doctor and his companions who have traveled across time and relative dimensions for almost 50 years.

The story is of a time-traveling time lord (as in the noble, not the religious kind) from space who has a keen interest in the Earth and humankind (and the messes we make), who manages to pop up just when he is needed.

For someone who has time in his title, he is remarkably willing to “make time” for all of the important things, such as saving the world. As elemental to the character is his sense of awe at the wonder and the beauty of life, taking time to not only save the world but smell the roses, as well.

“Ah, yes,” you say. “If only I had the time, I could do some great things, too. Unfortunately, I am far too busy.”

I am no exception to feeling overwhelmed by busy-ness and feeling as if I have no time, but I have taken a few moments to reflect on what it means to be busy. Fundamentally busy is just “being occupied,” according to the Merriam Webster online dictionary. But business, now that’s another matter. Moving past the commercial sense of business, business means, simply, “being in or of use with a role or function and having a mission.”

It is funny, to me at least, that we continue to use being too busy and not having enough time as excuses to be occupied rather than of use.

Recently, I have met rather a lot of people – very busy people, who will be like the good doctor, making time to save the world. No, they are not presidents or prime ministers, who admittedly shape but don’t necessarily save the world.

Rather, they are people who go about the business of creating and sustaining special places. People who will speak and contribute to the discussion at Elevate/Vail 2012, such as Alex Iskederian, from Vail Resorts Development Co., and David Perry, from Aspen Ski Co. (imagine Vail and Aspen in a room together), and Mickey Zeppelin, who has been so instrumental in putting the soul into modern Denver. Will Marcus and Gayle Minniecon, making time to come all the way from Australia to share their unique insights into our connections to place, and a whole raft of others who are not too busy to get down to business.

Particularly, I would like to draw your attention to Chris Anthony, whose skiing prowess in the Warren Miller films reminds us to never lose our sense of awe in the natural beauty around us.

Even science weighs into this argument. Research by a group of scientists has demonstrated that experiencing awe can be a time creator rather than a time consumer.

In a recent study, Rudd, Vohs and Aakers found that participants who felt awe revealed “awe-inspired changes in decision-making and well-being due to awe’s ability to alter the subjective experience of time. Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.”

My take on this is that we can all be time travelers by taking time to be awed, to move from too busy to getting to the business end of effectiveness and, indeed, if you need one, this may be the best excuse for joining us at the Elevate/Vail 2012, the creating and sustaining special places symposium to be held Sept. 25 to 27 at the Sebastian in Vail. We will enjoy, inspire and act and, in a sense, travel across time and dimensions whose defining characteristic is like our minds, bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Connie Woodberry is the CEO of Regional Breakthroughs Australia and Elevate LLC in the United States and is undertaking a doctoral research project on special places. She can be reached at constance@elevate

symposium.com or 970-471-6455.


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