“Slow and steady wins the race.” – The Tortoise and The Hare
In our quest to get things done, we can find ourselves moving too fast. When that happens we run the risk of missing key components of task completion, which can result in lower quality results. The need for speed is alluring because the rewards associated with speed are compelling: we get to finish something we started and that gives us a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
But that feeling is not only false…it’s fleeting.
The feeling is false in that while the job might be done, you’re cheating yourself how well it could have been done if you’d applied more critical thought and attention to the job instead of blazing rough it as quickly as possible. The feeling is fleeting because it disappears just as quickly as it arrived on the scene, and leaves a bad taste in its wake. To be clear, not every task needs to be done slowly. But it needs to be done at the right speed, and if you’re always moving at the speed of light then you’ll never be able to gauge what the speed of right is for any of the tasks you need (and want) to complete.
Back in 2011 I gave my first TEDx talk, and it focussed on how we need to work on speeding the right things up so that we can slow the right things down. Three years later, despite the age of the talk and how I’ve improved at speaking since, the talk is more relevant than ever. Instead of looking at how we can get more things done — which involves speed — we need to look at how we can accomplish more of the right things. And the only way we can do that is to take time to make the time to figure that out. Awareness doesn’t come with an increased pace, it comes with increased clarity. If you’ve ever sat on a river bank, you know that you can see a lot further and a lot deeper when the river is still than when the rapids are flowing fiercely.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Yet so many of us treat it that way by focusing on getting things done with speed in mind rather than effectiveness in mind. It’s time to stop this pattern by simply slowing down and figuring out what the right speed we need to apply to our work. That way we can treat our work right…and our work can treat us right in return.
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