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Slowing Down to Speed Up

Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

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Quick Communication Tip

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Slowing Down to Speed Up
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There are things we learned in childhood from fables, parables, and mythology that we either forget or dismiss by the time we’re adults. Some of them contain lessons we really would benefit from remembering. For example, our topic: sometimes to speed up we need to slow down. Perhaps because this seems to be a contradiction, we dismiss it pretty quickly.

It becomes another one of those things we know, but we just don’t follow. What’s up with that? Why don’t we do these things we know deep down inside will serve us? Maybe it’s because when we hear something that has seeming contradiction right up front, our dualistic filters run a quick spot check. If it’s X, it can’t be Y, and vice versa. Of course without that dualistic filter, it could be both X and Y. That makes what looks like a paradox a lot easier to swallow.

And since it appears that the nature of the Universe is filled with paradox, it may be time to look at whether our dualistic filters are helping or hurting the situation. Dualism certainly makes things simpler, and we do like simpler. Of course accuracy might be even better, so we may have to step into the land of nuance. Time and time again we turn our backs on nuance and opt for fast and simple. Why? We’re in a hurry. You see how these issues tend to circle back and create tangles?  Let’s look at “rushing” as a great place to start untying the knot.

Fables and Parables Have a Purpose
It’s been said that when information is combined with experience, it becomes wisdom. We can learn from our own experiences or not. We can also learn from other people’s experiences or not. Learning from theirs can be a great time saver. To borrow another old saying, why re-invent the wheel?

This isn’t to say that what works for me will necessarily work for you. However, when something shows up over and over for hundreds of years, it becomes harder to ignore the lesson. This is one of the great things about those fables, parables, and mythology. A lesson could be just as useful and relevant in Aesop’s time as ours, and the learned wisdom can be handed down to us. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and learn the lesson through our own experience.

Let’s look at a couple perspectives on our theme of slowing down to speed up. The story of the Tortoise and the Hare is still pretty familiar to most. There are several sub-lessons woven throughout the story, such as “not getting so confident that you don’t still go for it,” but the primary moral to the story is “slow and steady wins the race.” Unfortunately we figure, “yeah, but if the hare didn’t take a nap, he’d have won,” and dismiss the lesson.

Then rushing to get out of the house, we forget important papers, keys, or spill coffee on ourselves while multi-tasking. This inevitably eats up more time than if we’d slowed down just enough to be more conscious and intentional. Especially if you have to go back in the house to change your outfit, or you’ve locked yourself out, or both.

Another favorite expression of mine is: “measure twice and cut once.” It takes just a little more time to slow down and double-check before you take an action that will require far more time and resources to re-do. Ben Franklin advised that “a stitch in time saves nine.” How often have you thought you didn’t have time to fix something right now, and paid triple in both time and money later?

Increasing Effectiveness
Rushing will also decrease your experience of doing things, but as decreasing the quality of your experience is subjective, measurement is tricky, so I’m going to stick with the more tangible metrics of your effectiveness.  Rather than just looking at the negatives of rushing, let’s look at the positive affect you can have on your life by slowing down just enough to find your natural “perfect pace,” and the beat of your own drummer.

In virtually every sport, one of the top techniques for success is something called “slowing time.”  Anyone who has ever swung a golf club, baseball bat, or tennis racket knows that the more you try to kill the ball, the worse the shot.  Taking the time to prepare, visualize, and smoothly swing through the ball gets much better results. 

In auto racing, they regularly, explicitly say that you need to “slow down to go faster.”  By pushing too fast in a corner, the car will “wash up” the racetrack, (due to centrifugal force) leaving an opening for your competition to pass you lower on the track.  In addition, you wear out your tires sooner, (a great metaphor for resources) and will likely have to stop entirely, needing a change of tires, or worse, due to a blowout.  In the pits (where race cars are serviced during races) crews are trained to slow time in their minds, so that they can change four tires, do chassis adjustments, and maybe some body work in under 15 seconds, with no errors.  Missing a single lug nut could cost a race or cause a life-threatening crash.

We have plenty of personal experience to back up the old wisdom, and still we’re all guilty of blowing that knowledge off when we’re in a hurry.  Unfortunately we also pay for it over and over again.  Maybe if we can stay a little more conscious and in the moment, we might remember what we already know.  We can take a few seconds to save hours.  We can listen to another person more fully, and with more attention, because we’re not rushing off in our heads.  We can avoid misunderstandings that waste time.  We can give others the gift of our full attention, enriching our relationships, and creating depth and sustainability.  We can do things once, without errors, giving us back more time to do more (if we want to).  We can also fully experience our own lives, rather than a blur from the window of our speeding bullet train


Quick Communication Tip

Define Terms
One of the things we skip when we are racing through our lives, is taking the time to define terms because we think it will slow down our conversations.  After all, isn’t the point of a common language to save that step?

Well yes and no.  Thankfully we are not standing at the base of the Tower of Babel, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of variety in our interpretations of words and statements.  Responsibility, integrity, friendship, even words like “late” or “early” have drastically different meanings to different people.  Define terms in the beginning, and save the hassle of straightening things out later.

Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.


Resource Links:

Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)
Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition -
2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



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