Love Takes Time

Posted on October 16, 2023

Mariah Carey performs onstage in Amsterdam in 2019.

Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Dr. Sarah Story, (brand new) Executive Director of the Jefferson County Colorado, Public Health Department. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn, Medium, or Instagram.

What I’m Watching: Embarrassing, but I’m watching Daisy Jones and the Six on Prime. It’s garbage, but satisfying if you’ve read the book. I find myself rolling my eyes more often than when I’m watching the newest season of Love is Blind. The latter just has me in a perpetual CRINGE face.

What I’m Reading: When I’m not working, I’m unpacking boxes in our new home while listening to Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty, co-written (and narrated) by everyone’s favorite silver fox news anchor Anderson Cooper. I’d be lying if I didn’t say my favorite parts are when they describe the opulence and the parties, even though that’s not really the point of it all. 

What I’m Eating: My new apartment is directly behind a Trader Joe’s. For the first time in my life I can walk to TJ’s, which means that 90% of my diet consists of various dips and dressings. Newest obsessions include the Greek yogurt elote dip and the chili garlic crunch hummus

Here are three recent moments that made me actually, legitimately gasp. 

  1. Coming upon three big horned sheep on a trail while running 
  2. The first sunrise in my new home that comes streaming through my bedroom windows perfectly
  3. The news that Mariah Carey is doing a Christmas tour and she’s coming to my town

Mariah Carey is the soundtrack to my childhood. Running errands with my aunt and all my cousins, sitting illegally in the back of the car facing the wrong way, a chorus of kids hitting the runs on “Vision of Love.” She is the soundtrack to Thanksgiving cooking with my sister as adults, listening to Mariah’s greatest hits on repeat all morning not caring whether it was annoying the rest of the family. With every mimosa, convincing ourselves more and more that we were really nailing those notes… gesturing with a turkey baster reaching for the whistle tones on “Emotions.”

My personal favorite Mariah song is Love Takes Time. It’s not the most popular hit, but I find it the most satisfying to sing. Oooooooh, when I start to think of that song I get an immediate, visceral urge to get in my car and drive on the freeway so I can sing it at the top of my lungs. I play it at such a high volume that my watch gives me a warning that my environment is too loud for my ear health. The KEY CHANGE at 2:28! Don’t even get me started. 2:51 has the pinnacle of the whole song. I dare you to sing it and not get at least a little teary eyed. I dare you to sing it and not point at an invisible ex-lover who jilted you. 

Speaking of…

Does love really take time? Have you ever dated someone and thought “if I just hang around a bit longer… if I create just one more Hallmark movie moment… if I just stay the course, they are bound to love me.” 

We’ve all done it. I remember one particular dummy from my youth, so unworthy of my time and attention. I remember going to a hot springs in the woods, so romantic. This was the ideal place for him to finally say he loved me. We were surrounded by peacocks (there’s a symbolic lesson here, I’m sure) and vineyards. I was lounging on my stomach on a hot rock feeling beautiful and loveable. The sun was hitting me just so, and as I shielded my eyes to look at him sitting across from me, I knew this had to be the moment he fell for me. How could he not? He walked over to me slowly, raised his hand, and pointed to a spot on the back of my leg. “You missed a spot shaving”. 

Then he turned back to his phone.

Turns out the dude had about 7 other girls all hoping he’d fall in love with them too. 

Maybe I’m thinking of the phrase “love takes time” the wrong way. Maybe it’s not that it takes a long time to find love or fall in love. Maybe it’s that true love means taking the time and patience to grow, to forgive, to solidify. To love is a choice, and when I’ve made that choice I’m also choosing to take my time. I’m choosing to wait and to wade through the turbulence because I love, not in order to love. Love isn’t a destination, it’s fuel. 

This concept of patience fueled by love has been weighing on me as I’ve stepped into my new position. When people ask me how it’s going, I usually say “it’s surreal.” It feels counterculture to talk about love when talking about leadership, but this is where my heart is. There’s a brand of leadership based on fear and intimidation, and there’s another brand based on a deep love. It’s not romantic love. It’s a love that forms the foundation of the work we do. Love-based leadership doesn’t mean that every person in an organization gets everything they want. It’s not about placating and love-bombing our teams–it’s about the patience to get through the tough times and the transition pains and strive for something better. 

Love takes its time to see the payoff. Because I love the people we serve, and the people we serve alongside, I can take a breath before reacting. I don’t know how many times I’ve said in the last month: “I’m just going to sit with that and wait it out to see how things unfold.” Love takes its time because love is rooted in faith. Leadership love plays the longer game, knowing that rushing to judgment or immediate reaction can be traumatic to organizations who have experienced a ton of upheaval. 

This choice to love and let patience follow is not my natural instinct. When I get a gut feeling or intuition I want to act on it. Or, in the case of “peacock boy,” ignore those gut instincts and pretend they don’t exist. The guy wore tweed jackets with leather elbow patches, FOR GOD’S SAKE, and wasn’t even a professor. My main task these first 30 days has been to watch, to listen, and to absorb and process. There is, of course, urgency in some issues–emergencies that arise, a crisis to confront. But the bigger things–the strategic goals, the priority setting, the coaching–those require a leader who believes in love enough to take their time to be thoughtful. Thoughtfulness requires mental energy. It is so much harder to be still than to move. It’s why I try and eliminate any extra decision fatigue in my days now and pull a real “tech CEO” move and plan my outfits for the entire week on Sundays and wear only Gwyneth Paltrow style neutral tones. 

Homer Simpson in a tweed jacket.

A love-fueled patience knows the difference between unity and consensus. This was a distinction I didn’t understand in my earlier years, where I was so laser focused and self-righteous that I could care less about either of those concepts. Craving consensus comes from a place of fear. I want everyone to agree because I don’t want anyone to be mad. I don’t want anyone to be mad because if they’re mad, they’ll leave. Seeking unity means that I love another person so much that I’m willing to let them disagree with me, because I know we are both in this for the long haul and have the same goals. 

Mariah was right. Love does take time to heal when you’re hurting so much. And she was definitely right that I don’t wanna be here alone. Sometimes the waiting will feel lonely, but that’s one of the plethora of feelings that humans will experience. Leading with love takes the courage to say “I don’t wanna be here alone” but choosing to be lonely anyway if it means you aren’t compromising the end game. 

This last month in a new position has been overwhelming, joyful, exhilarating and exhausting… sort of like how I imagine I’ll feel after I see Mariah singing her Christmas hits on November 21st. I hope that my love of this work is like my love of “Love Takes Time”. In preparing for this essay I’ve been listening to the song on repeat and watching every “live and in concert” internet video of Mariah performing the song in 1993. No matter how she hits her notes or styles her runs, I love her anyway. I get chills. I get prickly behind the eyes. It never gets old. 

May all of your loves–at home, at work, in the world and beyond–be so lasting. 

PS: Here’s an early holiday present.

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