“The time we give to things reflects our values. When everything is rushed, then everything has been devalued. To live gracefully is to live within flowing rhythms at a human pace . There is time to pay respect to the value of what you do, to the worth of those you care for, and to the possessions you own. Gracefulness is not possible when life is frenetic, when we are harried, or suffer from overload, time crunch, and a vast multiplicity of commitments and pressures.”
Earlier this week I had a client began by telling me his morning had been extremely stressful. To break the intensity and gain focus I asked him to do the following:
Close all the tabs on his computer except zoom
Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down his "to do list" to include anything that is top of mind that he was worried he may forget or may distract him during coaching.
We then did a short relaxation activity
Then I asked him to write down what he wanted to cover in his coaching session.
After spending only 5 minutes on the above I noticed a distinct improvement in both the pace and content of his dialogue for the entire coaching session. (Click here for my blog on The Third Space.)
In our hectic work lives, where busyness is a badge of honour, what are the benefits of slowing down?
Enhances health and wellbeing: Rushing is stressful and can raise the amount of cortisol in the body to unhealthy levels associated with high blood pressure, compromised immune functioning, depression, cognitive difficulties, loss of emotional control, fatigue, and a host of other ills. In allowing ourselves to experience the present – rather than rushing toward the future – we become more attentive to what is happening around and within us, and to savour it. Regular readers know that so-called ordinary moments become extraordinary when we move slowly enough to notice and savour them. (click here for my blog on savouring moments)
Improved Emotional intelligence: Emotional Intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” (click here for my blog on EQ). When we are busy we allow our emotions to prompt rapid responses, which are not always appropriate or useful. Slowing down our reactions and taking the time to re-evaluate our initial responses, improves emotional regulation and increases the likelihood of a more fitting response. Successful reappraisal will also decrease the experience of negative emotions and is linked with adaptive long-term improvements in everyday functioning. Taking the time to notice and regulate your emotions, will therefore enable you to channel them into actions that serve you well and lead to greater success.
Improved decision making quality: The daily and weekly complex decisions of leaders requires the integration of information from multiple sources. Such decisions by their very nature require Kahneman’s slow thinking processes. Informed decision-making, involves thinking critically without succumbing to common errors or bias. Good leaders take the time to figure out what knowledge they lack and obtain it, then they look at all possible sources of information with an open mind, focusing on the facts, consideration of alternative, and sourcing additional information. (click here for my blog on decision making)
Clearer Priorities: Regular readers would know that leader who have clarity of purpose and values can focus on genuine priorities and the let go of less important commitments, and activities. Slowing down enables deeper clarity and awareness thereby ensuring that daily choices reflect your true values.
Increased productivity: Slowing down to be clear on your priorities also enhances, productivity, motivation and discretionary effort. Regular readers would know that slowing down enables the accumulation of resources that will enhance wellbeing. Remember when your energy is depleted, you can't possibly be productive because you will have no fuel to burn.
Strategic advantages: Every leader needs time to work on the business not in the business. This time enables the identification of current and future challenges and opportunities. Taking time to review what's working, what isn't working, and to look for trends is critical as it enables a shift from reactive to proactive strategies. In the end, strategic speed is a function of leadership. Teams that become comfortable taking time to get things right, are more successful in meeting their business objectives.
“I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last”
Simon & Garfunkel Feelin’ Groovy (click here for the song)
So take some time this afternoon or over the next week to identify the regular activities that are best done slowly, and block out time for them.
A blog on slowing down would be incomplete without mentioning the famous tactics of Steven Bradbury at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“What makes this win stand out from all the others was Bradbury’s initiative. He was the first man to outsmart his players, recognizing their aggression and how unlikely he was to beat them physically. He chose to play a tactical race, and the decision paid off.”
Please email me and tell me when you have had an unexpected victory or achievement because you slowed down and “did a Bradbury”.
Thank you to Jennie Brockie for her tweet that inspired this weeks blog.
Long video on Steve Bradbury https://youtu.be/vN7ih576VYM
Article on Steve Bradbury’s story https://populareverything.com/when-australia-saw-gold-how-steven-bradbury-surprised-a-nation/
David, J.R & Atkinson, T. (May 2010) Need Speed? Slow Down. Harvard Business Review. [online] https://hbr.org/2010/05/need-speed-slow-down
Thomas, A. (2019). 4 Reasons Why Slowing Down Will Actually Make You More Successful. [online] Inc.com. Available at: https://www.inc.com/andrew-thomas/4-reasons-why-slowing-down-will-actually-make-you-more-successful.html [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
www.psychologytoday.com. (n.d.). Decision-Making | Psychology Today Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/decision-making [Accessed 17 Feb. 2021].
Stark, E (2017) Is slowness the essence of knowledge? | The Psychologist. thepsychologist.bps.org.uk. (n.d.). [online]
Blaschka, A. (n.d.). The Fastest Way To Be More Productive Is To Slow Down. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyblaschka/2019/07/23/the-fastest-way-to-be-more-productive-is-to-slow-down/?sh=50f071c551a0 [Accessed 17 Feb. 2021].
Lufkin, B. (n.d.). Why you’re more creative in coffee shops. [online] www.bbc.com. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210114-why-youre-more-creative-in-coffee-shops [Accessed 17 Feb. 2021].
Susan Avery Stewart Ph.D.(17/12/18) Psychology Today. (n.d.). Slowing Down as the World Speeds Up. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-gift-aging/201812/slowing-down-the-world-speeds
Hawton, K., Ferriday, D., Rogers, P., Toner, P., Brooks, J., Holly, J., Biernacka, K., Hamilton-Shield, J. and Hinton, E. (2018). Slow Down: Behavioural and Physiological Effects of Reducing Eating Rate. Nutrients, 11(1), p.50.