Leadership and going slowly often appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
For most of us, our days are spent rushing. Everything is urgent, and the constant stream of meetings, deadlines, travel and matters needing our attention means assuming a quick and deadly pace is the preferred mode of function.
And it’s not just leaders who find it difficult to walk at a leisurely speed at times. Modern technology and life in general are simply not conducive to slowing down.
But lately I have come to realise the power of taking things a little easier from time to time.
I took part in ‘The Slow Down Challenge‘, an initiative designed by writer Jeff Goins, which was described as a five-day series of reflection and action that would help me to:
1. Live with greater intentionality.
2 Have better focus.
3. And develop deeper relationships.
Each day I received an email to guide me on slowing down. It was an enlightening (and at times sobering) experience.
One of the biggest insights was changing my perception of interruptions. Instead of viewing them as annoying disturbances to whichever ‘task’ that was in front of me, I learned to see the value and potential ‘gift’ when someone approaches you.
I ended up having the most inspirational and deeply impactful conversation with someone which could possibly have not even unfolded had I viewed them as an ‘interruption’ on that particular day.
I reflected, listened, savoured, and became more present in the moment with whoever I happened to be with and whatever I was doing.
My appreciation for the everyday things grew – like going for a run, being fully present (without attachment to outcomes) with my clients I was coaching and tucking my kids into bed at night. I saw the magnificent in the mundane. I saw the beauty around me in places I had never seen, but had always been there. In other people, in nature, and in me.
The irony is that in the week I undertook the challenge, and consciously slowed down amidst all of my rushing, I had one of the most productive and creative weeks of the last six months! So slowing down does not necessarily mean doing less, or achieving little. It can mean the exact opposite, it just means you are more likely to enjoy the ride a little more along the way.
Slowing down is undeniably a big challenge to tackle, particularly in the fast-paced business environment. But when we harness the power of it, great things can happen. And if I can do it, anyone can.
What are you going to do this weekend to slow down?