Michael Wade wrote an excellent article entitled, Slowing Down, which I recommend you spend some quality time with. His brief article deals with, as the title says, “slowing down.” Namely, slowing down the ways in which we might rush through a project, an email or a piece of writing (slowing down our habits of living). His words ring quite true to myself as I scramble to put on my tie, finish and send an email while wolfing down breakfast, so that I can get to work on time. His words also remind me of some Constructive Living wisdom, which goes something like this: When you are in a hurry, slow down.
It’s amazing how sometimes we can jump so far ahead of ourselves that we ignore some small yet crucial detail or task, necessary to the successful and mistake-free completion of a project or task. Even as I am writing this, as the words keep appearing, I am, in a sense, rushing (now revising). Maybe you can sense that. We tend to live in a world of varying degrees of speed (as Thayer reminded us in “Reach vs. Grasp”). Sometimes productivity can overwhelm us. Sometimes being too productive can cloud over the value of slow and effortful doing. Perhaps productivity folds back in on itself. Sometimes faster is not always better, only faster. If, as the cliche goes, “time is money,” then we should make sure that we are wisely investing our time. This does not mean engaging in “impulse buys,” but, more crucially, in well-thought-out decisions (purchases) and purposeful doing. It’s the difference between eating fast-food as opposed to eating fresh fruit. There are big differences in the outcomes of this seemingly brainless choice.
Wade points us to a simple yet, in my opinion, valuable, look at this controllable way of thinking and doing. Our TV game shows like to challenge us by testing how quickly we can answer questions. The person who is the fastest gets to reply. If, in that situation, we are fast and able to correctly answer the question, we may walk away with a cash prize. Nonetheless, our daily lives are much different than that. While speedy responses and speedy completion of projects may show us to be valuable employees on the surface, what if the haste of our doing results in some simple yet overlooked mistake? Do we still get “the prize?” What if that email lacked some important piece of information? Why kick yourself later when you had the choice to revise? Overlooking something can be corrected if we just slow down. Is tackling a project with speed and tackling a project with purpose different? If so, how so? Can a quick reply be a well-thought out reply? Perhaps, but not for me.
Sometimes we become speed and sometimes we become slow. How does this way of thinking change or improve our ways of doing? Does it matter?