The Coaching Dept. Blog
Slowing Down to Speed Up
It happened this morning. I had a coaching session with a young man who had been informed by his organization that they had decided to go in a different direction. There seemed to be less sadness about the fact it ended than there was about how it ended. He seemed to have the awareness that spending too much thought or energy on that would not serve him. He was calm and at peace. I asked him what he was planning, and he told me that he had discussed it with his financial planner, and he had decided to take the next six months or so to focus on being a husband and father. My sense after talking to him was going to focus on his next career vs. his next job.
Over 10 years ago I got a similar call from my daughter. In her case she was doing well at work but was questioning how it was fitting her life. We talked about it for a while and she said “Dad, what advice would you give me?” I said, “Jenny you know I don’t like to give advice, this is for you to figure out.” She said, “I know Dad, but if you were to give advice, what advice would you give?”
I said, “Well if I was to give advice, I would suggest you go and sit on a beach in Thailand for one year.” She said, “Really?”
I said, “It doesn’t have to be a beach, and it doesn’t have to be Thailand, and it doesn’t have to be a year, but it just means you need to take some time to decide what you want your life to be like, who you are going to be, and then what you need to do will become more evident.”
I was in a similar position as the young man 23 years ago. Interestingly the young man I was talking to this morning is now the age I was then. I didn’t call my financial planner because I am pretty sure he would have said, “You need to get a job tomorrow.”
For me, my sitting on a beach in Thailand for a year, was a coffee shop in my neighbourhood for 8 hours a day for a few months. I would read, dream, reflect, journal, converse with new friends and for the most part be still.
I have told my wife a few times that I loved those few months of unemployment. Sure, the absence of income and the uncertainty of future income took away from the joy of it a little, but the importance of slowing down to speed up was not lost on me.
The idea of slowing down to speed up may be more obvious in a time of transition. When you are going from one job to another, when you are going from one career to another, when you are going from a student to your first job, when you are going from single to married, when you are going from working to retirement.
It may be less obvious to see slowing down to speed up as we live our day to day lives. When you have so much to do and there is so little time it seems counter intuitive to slow down and do less.
Slowing down to speed up might mean scheduling time in your year, your month, your week, your day, your morning, your afternoon or evening to slow down and be quiet.
Slowing down to speed up could mean deciding to be present wherever you are. A conscious effort to not be thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
Slowing down to speed up could mean being conscious of the many distractions that bombard you and keep you from getting to where you want to go in a shorter amount of time.
Slowing down to speed up may mean eliminating a lot of unimportant things you do so you have more time for the important things.
Slowing down to speed up might mean taking time to understand what value you bring to your family, your organization and the world. This clarity will help you to determine what should make it to your schedule.
Slowing down to speed up might mean finding the time to connect with family and friends that busyness has kept you from.
Slowing down to speed up could simply mean taking time to breathe. Breathe deeply, relax, calm down.
Slowing down to speed up can mean taking time to be intentional. Before you start your day be clear on your intention. Before you start a conversation be clear on your intention. Before you start the meeting be clear on your intention. Before you go to a conference or a training session, be clear on your intention.
Slowing down to speed up could mean letting go of the belief that you are a superhero. A lot of people, leaders, parents think that their job is to do it all. They need to make the decisions, they need to control everything and everyone, they need to be there all the time in case something goes wrong. They may need to take their cape to the dry cleaners. When they slow down they may realize that they need to help the people they lead or parent, learn to be accountable, to make decisions, to learn and develop. They may find a team of leaders get more done than a superhero.
Shelley and I see this on our coaching gyms and in our mastermind groups. The busiest of people take time out to spend with inspiring people who help them see things differently, who help them with their priorities and then in turn they support others. They leave inspired and energized. They leave as better people and better leaders.
It is up to you do decide if, or how you will slow down to speed up. We believe that you can make a difference if you simply decide.
You might need to slow down to have the time to decide.
I am so proud of and excited for the young man who has decided to slow down to speed up!