Everyday we are bombarded with more and more stimuli, phone calls, texts, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, emails, Instagram, customers, family, creditors, children, schools, you name it we deal with it (or are distracted by it). Customers and clients expect more faster, cheaper and of the highest quality. The more we get the more we do and our sense of comfort and confidence to fulfill all we have to do is undermined and compromised. So we go faster and faster, later and later in the day and before long we crash and sometimes burn. And then we get to start up again the next day.
Is faster better? Do you get everything done that you intended? Are you happy and well? Do you have peace of mind? Do you spend enough quality time (“balance”) with family and friends? Do you take care of yourself? And I don’t mean overeating or drinking or drugging. If you’re like most of us, the answer is more likely to be “No” than it is “Yes”.
See, we are under the false impression that if we only go faster and keep moving, everything will be all right. Sometimes speed is limiting. Nothing illustrates this better than The Star Trek Warp Speed Metaphor. (I hope you’re familiar with the show or the movies otherwise this may not make sense). When the Starship Enterprise jumps into warp drive, it goes incredibly fast covering a huge amount of distance going from one end of the galaxy to another. However, when moving that fast, its other senses are LIMITED BECAUSE OF THE DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF ENERGY JUST DEVOTED TO GETTING SOMEWHERE. Its vision is limited to what is directly in front of it; it loses sight of all that is around it and all of the stars and planets outside of its path appear as a blur. It cannot shoot its phasers or photon torpedoes, it can’t communicate with anyone, it can’t put up its shields to defend itself. All it can do is go fast from one place to another. (Sound familiar?)
Consider that our daily experiences are much like that. We hit the ground running, reacting and going as fast as we can to meet deadlines, real and imagined, worrying and doing and chasing and putting out fires until we finally come up for air. We spend much of our day REACTING to most everything that shows up in our path. By the time the smoke clears, we are exhausted and whatever satisfaction, if any, we might have experienced is gone and long forgotten.
Also because we are caught up in the rush, we miss things that positively impact the quality of our daily lives and actually allow us to be present — from the simple beauty of a tree or flower, the smile of a child, the look from a loved one. The same is true for our business. We may miss the feedback from a customer, the good work provided by an associate or employee, or a small detail that can transform a problem into a golden opportunity.
When the ship drops out of warp speed, life slows down and everything comes into focus – they can communicate, they can put up shields and defend themselves, they can shoot phasers and photon torpedoes, they can use evasive maneuvers. Suddenly everything appears in clear detail and possibilities that couldn’t be seen reveal themselves and become available.
When we slow down, we become aware and things come into focus. We can hear things going on around us. We can create a thoughtful response rather than a quick reaction. We are able to step back and see the bigger picture and find the missing piece. We can assess the nuances of a problem and create a solution from a broader perspective that not only works but also can exceed everyone’s expectations.
So the next time you find yourself rushing, step back, slow down, take a deep breath (or several) and ask yourself a few questions. What is the most important thing that needs to be done? What project has a deadline that must be met? What can be rescheduled? Look around… What assets and resources can you deploy to ease the load? What can you delegate to an associate or employee? Focus on the solution, not the clock. A funny thing happens when you slow down, worry dissipates, energy rises, solutions get created and before you know it you have completed the tasks that were most critical with lots more ease and many times even quicker than anticipated.
And because you have slowed down, you have noticed those moments that remind you of the pretty damn good life that you have and you’ve experienced those beautiful moments that stay with you long after the task is completed.