I’ve been having a lot of soul-searching conversations with one of my kids this month. Our talks have been worthwhile and interesting, demanding and time-consuming. These discussions also require an extraordinary amount of patience, because this kid has a long runway.
I’m borrowing this phrase from Susan Cain and Dan Pink, who use it in a podcast I listened to ages ago to describe introverted kids. Little introverts aren’t great at explaining themselves in short, pithy sound bites; instead, it often takes them a long time to put their thoughts together. They have long runways.
My poor kid. I can relate.
I’ve been trying for years to fix myself of what I’ve always thought of as a bad habit: whenever I’m explaining something, I tend to bury my lede. I explain, equivocate, circle back, and correct myself before you have a clue what I’m talking about. I know I do it, and that it’s hard to listen to, but I can’t stop myself.
But you know what? All these conversations with my kid have me wondering if it’s not just a mannerism: maybe I just have a long runway. Like my kid, I’m slow to pull my thoughts together. I’ve learned a few ways to compensate, and could probably learn a few more, but nothing’s going to make that plane take off any faster.
(This is why I laughed knowingly at Anne Lamott’s quip at FFW: “I always say everything better on paper,” and am still thinking about Luci Shaw’s line, “I write to learn what I know.” Yes and yes.)
I suspect that this isn’t a problem to be fixed, although it may need some accommodating. I’m newly conscious of how those with long runways require their extra space, and I’m trying to grant it: to myself, to my kid, to anyone who needs some time to get her thoughts from her mind to her mouth.
Do you have a long runway, or people in your life who clearly do? I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, and observations on this one.
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P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.