The many voices of expectation in our nanosecond culture are a chaotic cacophony, constantly pulling us in one direction then another, leaving us feeling battered and bruised, frustrated then eventually exhausted if we don’t practice intentionality. If you aren’t acting intentional, you’ll suffer greatly from a condition I call acute “Hamsteritis”.

Recently, while attending an overprivileged child’s birthday party (yes, I actually said that), I watched in amazement as people, both young and old, waited excitedly to take turns exploring our world while inside a Human Hamster Ball (a reinforced translucent bubble). People actually WAITED IN LINE to emulate a hamster and called it entertainment! Don’t get me wrong, I love fun probably more so than the average person, and might even go so far as to say that I have a Peter Pan complex, however, that afternoon, I sat contemplative of the irony.

In my line of work, I encounter a barrage of unnecessary self-sabotage; emotional decision making (i.e. knee-jerking), leaders and management being overloaded and overwhelmed, doing the best they can while lacking clear direction and thus, falling head first into disaster without ever stepping back and taking the time to really question their decisions and whether or not they coincide with their vision. It brings to mind a time when a dear friend asked if I would be so kind as to pet sit their child’s hamster while they were away. Initially, I watched in fascination as the cute, furry little hamster would play on his wheel….running with his tiny legs as fast as they would take him. However, out of nowhere he would lose his footing and fall rather dramatically off the wheel onto the wood chips. He got up, looked around dazed and confused, shook it off and repeated the process…over and over again….for HOURS! I sat in both amusement and amazement as every once in a while he would stop and look around enthusiastically and inquisitively as if to ask the question, “Am I here yet?”. I noticed that after a few “accidents”, he would retreat to a corner from sheer exhaustion and burrow to rest and renew.

Yet, here were people at a party standing in line and better yet, actually paying money to simulate that very experience. Are we trying to acclimate or create an environment whereby our children grow desensitized so that when they get into the real world of business, they have mastered adaptability? Or is it simply child’s play?

You might ask where I’m going with this story, but I promise you it’s relevant. See, how many of us have ever taken the time to actually observe our patterns? How many hours of productivity lost? What processes do you have in place that govern, mitigate or at the very least minimize the impact of poor decision-making? Do we even know what centers us? Do we have a plan? Do we know where we’re going? Have we taken the time to do our own due diligence or are we emulating the hamster on his wheel….running as fast as we can, falling off and doing the same thing all over again?

Sadly, hamsteritis is detrimental to success and sustainability. Just imagine where you might be if you weren’t constantly falling off and having to regroup. Fortunately, there IS a cure and you have it in your possession. I’ll let you in on a well-kept secret…one of the best tools you can have in your toolbox is the time taken for reflection. The majority of successful leaders carve out time daily to think, to reflect, so that they can approach business from a more strategic vantage point. Just as when you’re driving your car, it’s critical for you to keep a close eye on your mirrors as well as what’s in front of you so that you can arrive at your destination.

Hindsight, as we all know is 20/20 and by taking the time for reflection, you’re utilizing the tools in your toolbox to achieve clarity and perspective; and at the same time, eliminating hamsteritis. So I challenge you to get off that hamster wheel before you need to burrow in a corner from unnecessary exhaustion and frustration.

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