I'm a fast learner, a fast organizer, and a fast writer. This doesn't mean I don't think as I go -- I think a lot (actually), but I'm always moving forward. As the legendary coach John Wooden used to tell his basketball players at UCLA, "move fast, but never hurry." I follow the same philosophy. I believe the key to moving fast is knowing exactly where you're going, to have a clear destination in mind. Most importantly, you need to be mentally present and self-aware to go fast. Sounds simple, but it's anything but . . .
It helps to know yourself, as the ancient Greek philosophers were so fond of saying. The more integrated and self-aware you are as a person, the more comfortable you are with your values and interests and weaknesses, the faster you can move forward. I like to observe, to learn, to share, to connect emotionally with others.
I'm a huge believer in looking inward before you glance outward. Paradoxically, it takes a lifetime to learn who you are, but this day-by-day investment in self-reflection allows you to make faster and better decisions, to be more creative and to immerse your entire self into what you're doing. We are our own North Stars, but we so often don't realize it.
The great Albert Einstein was once asked what he'd do if earth was facing a pending disaster (actually, this may be the case today) and he only had an hour to save the world. An hour to save the world sounds like a "rush job" if I'd ever heard of one! Did Einstein say he'd rush right into action? No. "If I had an hour to save the world," he said, "I'd spend 59 minutes defining the problem, and one minute solving it."
For us as human beings trying to do anything, from pursuing our careers to being good parents or friends or partners, or trying to do or decide anything else, "defining the problem" means understanding who we are, what values are important to us, and what legacy we want to leave behind after we die." Once you've figured out this stuff, which can take a lifetime, then just about everything else (like having a minute to save the world) will get easier.
So as I admit that I'm a fast writer, I know that my speed comes from a place of deep reflection. Sometimes, when I'm given two days to write something that might take another writer a week, I like to sit on my back porch for an hour and watch the birds who occupy the tree in my neighbor's yard. I sit there with all my senses engaged, watching the birds move from perch to perch, listening to their birdsong, smelling the air of a quiet afternoon, tossing breadcrumbs to get the birds closer. Is this time wasted?
Far from it. It's the best investment I can make. It empties my brain and engages all my senses, immerses me in another world for an hour. When I start working, I know exactly where I'm going, what I need to do. The world looks new again and my mind is ready to create.
I slow down in order to go fast. I like to lose myself to find myself. I love to wander to know exactly where I'm going.
You don't need to watch birds to gain the benefits of slow, you just need to immerse yourself in something different. Some people meditate or walk or do yoga or jog. I like nature because it doesn't really care about my concerns, my need to be creative or to make money or to satisfy my client's needs. I sit and become part of the natural scenery, and that helps me be fully present and focus on what's important to me. Observation and learning are core values for me, as is sharing whatever I've learned (even paltry things, like the splendor of birds).
What I'm telling you is that slow is often the gateway to fast. You can miss so much when you hurry -- you can miss your entire life and all the joys within -- so try going slow before you go fast. It works for me. Find a way to make it work for you . . .How do you slow down to move faster?