I can still remember the first time I went to London. I was 15. What took me so long? Well, I was from Batley, this was the 70’s, we didn’t get out much. I think I was 12 before I got to Leeds, which was about 8 miles away!
But I can still clearly remember the excitement I had, walking up the cobbled road to Batley Train station (the cobbles are still there!) to get on the Inter-City to London.
And when I got to the ‘Smoke’, the thing that immediately struck me, was just how fast everyone moved! Off the train, in the street, onto the Tube, what was the rush? Where was the fire? I thought that had been extinguished in 1666…
Today, it’s even worse. Now, when I go to London, I like watching, when stood on the train, the people who can’t wait to get off. Jabbing the button to open the door, even before the train has stopped, squeezing through a half-open exit, before hurtling down the platform to the Tube, where they can sprint down the tunnel to squeeze onto the next crowded platform…phew!
Many people in business feel under the same pressure to move at break-neck pace. Indeed, many of the ‘words of wisdom’ from the well-known business mentors contain similar messages: “ Be quicker and nimbler”, “adapt and re-mobilise quickly”, “move at pace”, etc.
Some entrepreneurs still pride themselves on the long hours they put in, seemingly tirelessly. They call it “the Hustle”. I didn’t realize this until recently, when I was asked if I’d heard of it. “Sure”, I said. “It’s a song by Van McCoy, about 1975, I think”.
But, the truth is, if you want to speed up your success, you need to slow down. Just as less is usually more, slower is usually faster. Why?
Well, consider this. Thomas Edison was one of the world’s greatest inventors. People remember him as the creator of the electric light bulb but, in fact, he held over 1000 patents for different inventions, staggering!
But Thomas Edison used to spend an hour almost everyday sitting at the end of a dock and fish. He always fished by himself, but he never caught any fish. One day, someone actually asked Edison as to the reason behind him being a terrible fisherman.
His answer was, “I never caught any fish because I have never used any bait.”
Thinking that Edison was a bit mad, he was asked: “Why in the world would you fish without bait?”
Edison’s answer? “Because when you fish without bait, people don’t bother you and neither do the fish. It provides me my best time to think.”
The temptation, when running a business, is to fill all available time. Cram your diary with appointments, with networking, marketing, tweeting, running around here, there and everywhere. But your aim should be, not to fill time, but to create it.
The more astute realize that it’s only when we create some time and space to reflect, relax and concentrate on the important few things that the magic happens. This is one reason why many people in business employ a coach.
Because, in coaching, there’s the opportunity to slow everything right down, you get to breathe, you have the time and space you really need for the miracles to happen, you get to see the things you would never notice when rushing. Little wonder I love coaching, because I too, get to slow right down and then see incredible, amazing insights through the eyes of my clients.
“Speed Kills”, read the road signs, and it’s so true. Speed kills creativity, innovation, big-picture thinking, as well as building long-lasting and meaningful relationships. It robs us of the quality time, the thinking time, time we can use to open up our incredible mind and consider all the possibilities of making our time on this planet, whether in life or in business, truly wonderful.
So, if you really want to get to your destination quicker, take your foot off the gas! Coaching can help enormously, but whatever you do, by creating time and space you’ll be amazed at how much more effective you become.
Take a walk, potter round the garden in your dressing gown (my favourite!), meditate, wander round an art gallery, have a bath, play an instrument, however badly. Learn to make time for smelling the roses, even if you don’t have any, and slowly, steadily, beautifully, watch the magic happen!