For almost 40 years now, I have felt like I woke up 10 minutes late. The to-do list of kids, work, dogs, life stuff started running before I even opened my eyes. If only I were smarter, faster, more organized, more efficient…. Now, I realize I was starting my day from the wrong place.
When you read those words “Smarter, Faster,” how do they make you feel? Where does the energy of the words land in your body? Often when I ask clients or workshop participants this question, they say, “in my shoulders…my chest got tight…my head got tense…my body crouched, and I got ready to run…”Or, they say, “Yes, that’s what I need to do, and then I would be successful… I would be worthy…” Smarter and Faster seems like it has become mantra of our culture.
I’m not saying Smarter and Faster doesn’t have a place in the world. They most certainly do. But waking up to that mantra every day is exhausting and counter-productive to achieving a thriving life, team or organization.
Now breathe in the words Slower, Better. How do those words make you feel? Often I hear things like, “I can breathe…it helps me relax…it sinks deeper into my being…it allows me to think of new possibilities.”
Smarter, Faster is a mental construct that can easily kick up our adrenaline. Those words tell us we need to move; we need to become more efficient. They remind us that some predator is coming up on our heels. And often, that idea comes before we’ve asked these questions – “Where are we running from or to? Where does the path lead? Is that where we want to go?”
When we build from a place of Slower, Better on a daily basis, we allow our mind and soul to pause. We allow ourselves to both ask and answer the questions: Where am I going? Where does my path lead? Where I want to be going?
Rarely do the answers come as some grand epiphany that changes everything. More likely, they provide subtle shifts. What does it feel like to breathe in Slower, Better as you walk into a conversation? Does it remind you to ask yourself, ‘how do I want to show up in the conversation?’ Does it allow you to ask yourself, ‘what is my desired outcome of this conversation?’ – the deeper desired outcome, not just an immediate emotional reaction. Does saying Slower, Better allow you space for creativity? Does is provide an internal pause long enough to think ‘What if?’
From a biological and physiological perspective, Slower, Better returns cellular energy to our vital organs (our heart, mind, liver) to our core. When our energy and oxygen starts focusing inward and not traveling on adrenaline highways to our arms and legs, doors open to new creativity, innovation and possibility. We learn to think and see expansively. We understand connections we may not have seen before. We become more aware of the choices we have in what we say yes and no to that can have major implications on our physical and emotional health.
I wish I would have learned this message decades ago, but better late than never. Try it. Slow down for a few minutes and just breathe in Slower, Better. Write down what comes to your mind and allow yourself to be grateful, even for the smallest thing. Commit to trying this concept for a couple of weeks. Ask your team, family or friends to do the same. Take a minute to slow down together before a meeting or a meal. Observe what happens. In this small moment of added consciousness, seismic change can occur. And we can begin to deepen in our courage and capacity to discover new paths toward a beautiful future.