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Slowing down to speed up

SLOWING DOWN TO SPEED UP … So many of us operate at top speed and top volume in our 24/7 non-stop lives, always thinking ahead and jumping forward to grab the next shiny big thing. It is the rare individual, very often a maverick who knows their own mind, who takes the strategic decision to deliberately slow down and reflect … in order to speed up, and, accelerate in absolutely the right direction.

We all have those fleeting insights and moments of clarity or gentle nudges from our inner voice … but if we race on and on down life’s hectic track without stopping and reflecting, we lose the possibility of immensely valuable insights. Slowing down, and having the confidence and presence of mind to slow down, means that we, finally, get to listen – amidst the silence – to the beginnings of some answers around new insights, ideas and possibilities.

Generally, only a confident maverick can give themselves permission to turn down the volume and pace of their lives and tune in to silence, stillness and reflection.

Once we’re ticking over in receptive mode at a steady 20 miles per hour, then we are in a position to begin to ask ourselves a few probing questions. As we slow down and look inwards, we can start to take stock of where we have come from, review our current path ahead, allow ourselves to be curious about other new possibilities of direction, start to make vital connections between various strands of thoughts that were difficult to connect up while flying around at top speed.

Too often, operating at top speed does not indicate a high-flyer lifestyle but simply just denotes being in ‘existing’ mode. Being stuck in the fast lane, simply existing, unable to move across to the slow lane and see life from a steadier and more insightful position, is not a position of strength. It is in fact a position of weakness and representative of an inability to forge your own path with conviction or deliberately seek quality, purpose and value in your life.

Slowing down to speed up

Many years ago, Oscar Wilde famously observed: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all”. A life of existence where you simply allow yourself to be bumped along life’s track with very little influence or reflection is a waste of the gift of life. Let’s make 2020 a year when we all get a bit more maverick with ourselves and our lives and put the brakes on every so often to get a real sense of where we are in our lives, what we want and what we could be.

Slowing down means that when we do finally speed up again, we do so with a quiet and visceral inner knowing of who we are, a renewed sense of purpose and a strong grip on our inner compass and direction of travel. We speed up with purpose, owning our direction and associated actions, fuelled with fresh energy and ambition. Ready to serve ourselves, our communities, our clients.

A recent McKinsey study also found that the same principle applies to high flying corporate business teams. They found that ‘those teams who slowed down, eventually went deeper and faster into achieving their objectives. They dealt more effectively with increased complexity and challenges, and used less energy”. Spending a little more time on exploration and reflection was found to speed up decision making and vastly reduce wasted energy and resources.

So, take some time to review this question … Why speed up purely to exist – when by slowing down at frequent intervals you get to live a full and purposeful life steeped in richness and wisdom?

Put your brakes on and try it for yourself!

Bernie Ritchie
Bernie Ritchie
Bernie Ritchie is a coach and former marketeer. She is a trained transformation coach, health coach, NLP practitioner, MBA and mentor on the Warwick Business School mentorship programme.

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