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Take Time

I see the intensity and experience it personally too, sometimes we seem like so many tops, set spinning on Monday mornings by an invisible hand .

We hit the ground running (or spinning) and work hard; focused. So focused that often we don't stop for lunch. Sound familiar?

Slowing down in order to go farther and go better--that's what I'm suggesting. It's counterintuitive. We feel like we can't afford to miss a beat or take a breath--we fear that if we do, we'll drop the ball. And it's hardest when you work with people, because you feel guilty if you slow down, so much seems to depend on getting the work done.

But can we afford not to? 

And will we really drop the ball if we do? I think the answer is "No."

In their book, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (How to Create a Simpler Life from the Inside Out, Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey propose that slowing down your thoughts will result in greater productivity and creativity, while also resulting in a healthier state of mind. Slowing down, stepping back, and breathing, help us become less reactive and more responsive. We feel less at the mercy of the unexpected issues that insert themselves into our day if we realize that we can think about how to respond to them.

When we feel an emotional reaction to something, be it something someone said or did, or an email just read; take that as a signal to slow down and put some distance between it and your response. Sometimes the very same words read the next day, look so different. Maybe we're tired, or stressed, or maybe the words pushed a subconscious emotional button we aren't even aware of, but a little time helps that become more evident.

"Quick" is valued in our society--but think about joining that adjective to "judgements;" or "decisions;" is quick so valuable then? Maybe "hasty" is a more suitable adjective in these cases--a word equated with rushing. Rushing to judgment is not a positive thing, especially where people are involved.

Steven B. Sample, in his book, The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership talks about the deficits of instant judgements and binary thinking and the benefits of what he calls "thinking gray and free," which really describes suspending judgements and keeping the mind open to facts and different ways of looking at situations.  For a great summary of the chapters in the book, click here

Think of the time that is taken repairing the damage of a wrong decision, missed step in a protocol, quick judgement or hasty conversation; things that usually happen under pressure.

A final reason for slowing down is that if you don't, you can miss the really important. Judge Dan Butler, in an inspiring talk at a synagogue in Thornhill, on Saturday evening, reminded his audience that "life is full of incredible beauty--much of it is fleeting--you've got to watch for it."

He reminded us of that these moments can so easily pass us by if we aren't watching for them. He told us of his son Mikey, who lived with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that took his life at 24. Mikey managed to inspire thousands of people with his incredible zest for life and living although he never got to experience one normal day. Dan Butler exhorted the audience to see the miracle that normalcy is--to grab it with both hands and make the most of it--while not allowing life to pass you by unseeing. 

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