It's almost a swear word in our culture today. The very idea of slowing down sends shivers down my spine and creates a deep rage to bubble up on the inside.
"I want it now!"
I say to myself like the young Veruca Salt from Charlie and The Chocolate factory.
Yet what if this desire to achieve success now is the very thing keeping me from it.
I have a very fond, yet somewhat painful memory of my early career life where I learnt one of the most helpful and continually giving principles of a successful life:
I was 15 years old. I had just started in the career world as a butchers apprentice(yes that's right, a butcher), and my boss saw a young, passionate boy who was desperate to prove himself. My boss watched as I would try and use brute strength where finesse and technique was needed, or when I'd do a job as quick as I could even though it required me to be thorough, lest I now have to repeat myself.
After a couple of months of watching me painstakingly try to prove I could do anything and didn't need to learn anything, he stepped in and taught the old lesson of:
"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast"
The truth and wisdom in the above statement is that in order to be good, you must throw speed out the window. Pursue the right way instead of the quick way.
The right way only needs to be done once. Whereas the "quick way" often results in loads of mistakes which then need to be fixed, thereby slowing down the whole process.
Learn, practice, learn, practice, then perfect(repeat that about a hundred times before perfection).
Pretty simple right? Oh how I wish it were. See at a base level, a psychological, human nature level this old adage is perfect in theory, but oh so hard in practice. Many reasons explain why but one of the key reasons it is hard for us as humans to slow down is:
You see I love the idea of slowing down, but when I stop to meditate, or practice mindfulness, or put my phone down and try to be present at dinner with my family at some old Chinese place we have been going to for the past 20 years, and then I find myself picking up my phone to see I have no new messages and nothing new on Instagram has popped up for the 100th time, only to check again 1 minute later - My monkey brain won't slow down.
Psychologists and human nature experts theorise this is because the future is not guaranteed. We are desperate to achieve the things we want to achieve, be the person we feel like we are meant to, or called to, or destined to be because at the back of our minds, we are afraid we may never reach that achievement or success. Ignorance becomes our friend and we push ever harder into constant motion without any movement.
So then the exercise is not one of simply slowing down, rather it becomes a wrestle with our own nature. We must be aware of this. Don't simply stop and meditate but be curious. Question the things that "aren't supposed to be questioned", such as your purpose, your vision, maybe even the opinions of others(blasphemy!). Just stop. Don't pause, stop. Question, readjust, then move forward again, all the while being prepared to stop and adjust if you need to.
Now this blog is not a "10 tips slowing down makes you successful", rather it's a question exercise:
If you took a serious look at your day to day life. The things you do without truly thinking it through. The words you say to yourself. Perhaps even your vision in life. What if you took the time to slow it all down. If it really, truly is the thing you're passionate about and you want to pursue, then is it not worth slowing down and doing it the right way?
After all, the right way is the quickest way.