How many of us can honestly admit we’re in too big of a hurry in every aspect of our life? Do you think a lot of people would be capable of answering this or would they simply blow it off?
“That’s not me.” (Stereotypical response)
In 2018 or 2019, I would have been one of those people. Given my military experience of, “Get it done and get it done right now,” I was conditioned to always be moving 90 mph in my personal and professional life. Did it always give me an advantage in what I was doing? Sometimes. but thing is, my success and outcomes were all about my perception. Just because I felt like I was doing things the right way by doing them as fast as I could, doesn’t necessarily mean they were the most accurate and effective way to do them.
In November of 2019, I decided I needed a drastic change in my field of work. At the time, I was a sexual assault victim advocate. This was something I did while in the military so I just made the assumption it would be the best course of action after I retired. What I didn’t consider was the fact that I was still trying to move at the same speed. It just didn’t serve me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I needed a change.
After having several conversations with my amazing wife, I finally realized it was time to reconsider how I approached my every day life. I asked myself, “Why are you’re perfectly capable of slowing down during times of danger but not with the simplest of things?” External factors were not my issue. My approach was and still is the issue. That’s the moment I knew I needed to slow down.
Here are some things I believe I need to change (slow down). If you’re interested in trying this, these may or may not align with your priorities but I feel they will be effective for me.
- Walking and moving at a slower pace.
- Waiting for the other person to finish speaking before I respond.
- Decision making.
1) Walking and moving at a slower pace:
I know what you’re thinking, “Why would you want to be one of those people?” I’m not referring to the people you get annoyed with at the mall because you can’t get around them. I’m talking about slowing down so you can be cognizant of your surroundings. (Situational awareness)
If you rush into a room or situation without taking the time to develop some level of situational awareness, do you believe you’ll always be successful? Again, it depends on your perception of success. I can say from experience, this doesn’t always work.
Just because you get there first, doesn’t mean you win. Consider this: Now that you’re there, what’s next? Some people probably can’t tell you what the next steps are because they’re just focused on being first. For whatever reason, they make a competition out of everything.
“I pushed the button first! I don’t know what it means but I pushed the button less than two seconds after the instructor mentioned it.” (What’s the purpose?)
Have you ever met this person? Is it you? I’ll admit, I’ve done this probably way more times than I realize. I now know, it didn’t serve me because I was acting without a focus or reason. Moving slower, aka waiting for additional instructions or an objective to be explained, is a more effective approach.
Why it will help – When you move slower, you will demonstrate you are in control of your emotions and are focused on your surroundings. People will feel more at ease with you and you’ll be more approachable. Not too many people are interested in approaching the person running around the office like the building is on fire.
“Slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects.” – Greg Mortenson
2) Waiting for the other person to finish speaking before I respond:
This is a huge problem for most of the people you interact with in your personal and professional life. For whatever reason, people are more focused on how they’re going to respond, more than listening to what the other person is saying to them. This conveys that your response is more important than what the other person is saying. This is not active listening.
I will admit, I do this way too much with my beautiful wife. I foolishly overcompensate by always trying to say the right thing. The problem is, I don’t always allow her to articulate what she’s trying to say. I draw my own conclusion without her even finishing. (In order to cultivate change, you need to have some humility. Identify what you do wrong or what you want to improve.) 50% of the time, my response is not what she’s looking for because I didn’t allow her an opportunity to finish. [Thinking Traps: Jumping to Conclusions and Mind Reading]
This behavior does not create effective communication. By slowing down and waiting for the person to finish, it will help eliminate confusion, a protentional argument, or getting off topic. What they have to say is just as important as what you have to say.
Why it will help – When you develop a reputation as someone that exercises active listening, you will imediatley have rapport with people because they know you’re actually listening to them. Plus, the more your listen, the more you’ll learn. This is why we have two ears and only one mouth.
By me slowing down and waiting for my wife to finish, our conversations will be more effective for the both of us. She will be more willing to talk to me because she’ll know I’m listening and valuing what she has to say.
3) Decision making:
This change impacts the first two examples. Everything we do in life involves making decisions. We have to decide what time we’ll wake up, what we’ll eat, how hard we’ll work, what we’ll say, and what time we’ll go to bed. The problem is, we don’t always make the right decision because we’re moving too fast.
We are incredibly spoiled with our current technology. If we want something, all we have to do is pull out our cell phone and order it. This is called instant gratification and it has made us incredibly complacent and spoiled.
Just because you can take action right away, doesn’t mean it’s always the correct course of action. Some people would rather drive 40 miles in the wrong direction instead of taking the extra time to fully read and comprehend the instructions. “I don’t care about what you’re about to say, I’m getting there first.” [Thinking Traps: Jumping to Conclusions and Mind Reading]
Yes, I am someone that is incredibly motivated about less talking and more doing. This will never change because it equals progress. However, it is important to ensure you are taking the correct action. Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing something. In the driving example, he was busy acting foolish because his ego (h-ego) took over.
Why it will help – Taking a few extra seconds, minutes, hours, or even days to make decisions can save you from wasting critical time. It will also help you develope better communication skills because your loved ones, supervisors, peers, and subordinates will begin to trust your decisions. Just like you, people value their time and they don’t want you to waste it.
Bottom Line – This is not going to be easy. Am I going to slip up? Absolutely. If you’re going to try implementing these types of changes, I would imagine you’re going to slip up too. This is why exercising patience and consistent action is so important. Never forget, how you do one thing is how you do everything.
For more information or tips on how to slow down in your personal and professional life, check out my latest book: