It seems counter-intuitive but in order to get more done and to be more effective, we must slow down. Throughout the industrial revolution we pushed to do things faster in order to get more throughput. If a manufacturing plant could shave 30 seconds off a particular process, that could translate into millions of additional profits. But at what cost? Reduction in quality? More accidents? Increased employee burn-out? It all adds up.
One of my coaching mentors, Rich Litvin is known for teaching the principle of slowing down to go faster. Even leaders from our past who made great achievements knew the importance of going slow. The founder of the Roman Empire, Augustus, would use the Latin phrase “Festina Lente”, which translates to “make haste, slowly.” It served as a reminder for Augustus to do things with a proper balance of urgency and diligence. Abraham Lincoln understood the principle of slowing down and is quoted: “If I had four hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first two hours sharpening the axe.”
If slowing down is a key to success, how do we apply this core principle to our personal lives and to our business? Here are 4 areas we can practice slowing down:
1. SLOW DOWN YOUR PERSONAL INTERACTIONS:
We are wired for connection and relationship. If we can take the time to really get to know those we work with and serve, we will build more trust and be more impactful. Listen intently to the words spoken and pause before a reply. It’s a powerful habit to pause a moment before reacting or offering a reply. Neuroscience supports this because a simple pause allows our rational brain to catch up, before the reactive brain can mess things up.
2. SLOW DOWN YOUR SALES PROCESS:
In sales, we often speed through the process and once a buying signal is given, we rush to close the deal. In haste, we overlook the signals that indicate a poor fit or a lack of understanding of what our offer is. If we slow down, ask a lot of solid questions to fully understand our client’s position, they will relax and open up. Once the deal is solidified, your customer will be better served and have a stronger buy-in.
3. SLOW DOWN YOUR BUSINESS OR PROJECT LAUNCH:
The most important part of a building project is laying the foundation. If we build a massive structure on a hastily built and weak foundation, it will collapse in ruin. Similarly, when we launch a business or a key project, we need to carefully take our time to ensure our vision is clear, our strategy is sound and we have the knowledge, finances, energy and mindset to build it.
4. SLOW YOURSELF DOWN:
We often believe that pressing our nose to the grindstone, while multitasking will enable us to get more done. The opposite is true. A dull blade does not cut well. Similarly, an overworked mind and body does not perform well. A single focused effort that is broken up with a few shorts breaks will yield greater results. By intentionally slowing yourself down, you will avoid burnout and allow more opportunities for inspiration.
Try slowing down for a week or two and notice how much more you are getting get done. Note the greater inspiration and insight you receive. See the improvement in your relationships. Look at all the things you have previously ignored that you now see, smell, taste, hear and feel.