The article I wrote two weeks ago — 4 Life Principles to Quit the Hustle addressed a myth most driven people assume to be true — that striving for more, going faster, and competing to be better than others is pretty much the recipe for creating a successful life.
Out of the three beliefs I mentioned, the most counterintuitive one had to do with slowing down because what I proposed was, “Slow down your thinking to speed up your results.”
Many members of my community reached out with questions around this principle and mostly they wanted to know, “What does that even mean??”
So many of us believe that if we slow down our thinking, we will come to a dead stop or fall off the cliff — a la The Coyote in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons!
Or maybe we’ll just lie on the couch all day and lose the thread of our lives forever, intoxicated by Netflix and chips!
I’m here to tell you the contrary.
Slowing down does not equal slacking off.
In fact, far from losing our edge, we actually sharpen our sword when we slow down our thinking to the speed of the present moment.
You might have already noticed that anything in life that is important, happens slowly.
Anything that lasts, happens slowly.
Here is a partial list of the conditions my clients and I want to create more of:
- Deep connections
- Life balance/integration
Every single one of these requires…
- Slowing down our thinking and
- Practicing hyperfocus.
Slowing down is a practice and precondition to developing the primary ability of hyperfocusing. The more ambitious our goal, the more skillful we must become in these two separate yet deeply connected practices.
Steve Job’s words help us understand this tradeoff, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”
Let’s take “creating deep connections” as an example.
Deepening a human connection requires, actually it demands, slowing down to decide who in our life matters the most and then focusing on them in that moment, at the expense of absolutely every other important duty or obligation.
It’s easy for me to say no to someone on the periphery of my life, so I can be present for a client or friend who is going through a rough patch. But the muscle I’m asking myself to strengthen only gets flexed when I say no (or not now) to someone unquestionably important in my life, such as my child — to be present for that client or friend.
Slowing down our thinking for the sake of speeding up our results takes extraordinary effort and is not to be taken lightly.
It is a practice that requires us to shift our focus towards long term thinking while also being radically present in any given moment.
You think that’s hard?
Imagine reflecting on your life from your deathbed only to realize you’ve missed creating deeper connections with the people who truly mattered to you?
That’s not just hard, it’s devastating!
The next time you find yourself speeding up because your mind is telling you it’s the only way to succeed, take note of these words from Eliot Kipchoge, the fastest man on the planet.
When asked to share his secret to success, he responded, “You can not go to the gym today and build your muscle. You should get a program and go slowly by slowly. That’s the way you build your muscle and that’s the way you can have discipline.”
Slowly by slowly.