“Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last. Just kicking down the cobblestones; looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.”
Every time I recall this song written by Paul Simon, I think about how fast-paced my life has become. In this busy and often fragmented world, it feels like everything moves at a speed and intensity unlike anything I’ve previously experienced. Today it’s easier than ever to send an email, hold a virtual meeting, and reach anyone at almost any time — day or night. The newest technology allows us to connect in a nanosecond. Compared to even a decade ago, things have changed drastically.
While the advancements of technology have given us many benefits, life feels to move forward in a disconnected way in speedy, continuous bits and snippets. According to a Huffington Post blog a couple of years ago, “multitasking hasn’t just become second nature; it’s become our only nature. And it may be “damaging to our cognitive control” therefore inhibiting our creativity.
Dialogue is an activity of discovery and innovation – a space where people can creatively think together, sharing meaning through words. One of the characteristics of Dialogue is that of an unhurried pace. The cadence is slowed and in that creativity is engaged.
Similar to meditation Dialogue moves at an unhurried pace as participants begin to relax into its natural flow. According to a 2012 Dutch study (Lorenza Colzato, Leiden University), open meditation techniques “promote creative thinking because the meditator becomes receptive to all the thoughts and sensations experiences without focusing attention on any particular concept or object.”
Dialogue works in very much the same way. As the pace slows, and room is made for silence, creativity begins to flow as participants become more open and receptive to all of their thoughts and sensations wholly – without giving focus to any one particular part – opening the door to all of what is possible.
When I was growing up, my Mother would often tell me that “haste makes waste” – meaning that I should slow down in order to avoid mistakes. To this day and without fail, when I hurry to complete a task – if something goes awry – I am reminded of my Mom’s words.
But that was decades ago when I was young and invincible and life tended to have an unhurried pace. This age-old saying certainly cannot be accurate today. Right? I mean if we don’t get more done than our peers, how will we get that promotion? If we don’t move faster than the other company, how will we gain and maintain a competitive advantage? If we don’t make the right moves at the right time, we may waste capital – or worse – be out of business.
Today’s business environment means that we are in perpetual motion. The atmosphere is one of volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity. Advancements in technology amplify our need for speed. It’s more accepted and expected to be “on” 24/7, 365 days a year. For sure, if we don’t move at high velocity, we’re going to miss that next big opportunity. And then we’re sunk.
Speed is important – especially today. But not if you don’t know where you’re going. Similar to a hamster on a wheel, speed without direction gets you nowhere fast. It’s this kind of haste where you waste time, energy and resources, making very little headway towards your goals.
Feeling a sense of urgency is usually an indicator that it’s time to hit the pause button – slowing down in order to move fast. It’s essential to take necessary time to create your company’s “True North” — and to determine and understand the purpose and values underpinning that shared vision. This is what will set you on solid footing from which to launch.
But remember. Once you’ve built that foundation, it’s important to take action and take it quickly; because direction without speed is no better than speed without direction.
And as you sail full throttle – always keeping True North within your sights — you’ll learn a lot about the environment in which you are operating. You may encounter headwinds or hit a big wave or even a storm along the way. But because you’ve set a robust foundation to which your organization is fully committed, you’ll see these obstacles sooner than others, allowing for opportunities to engage in creative ways – making focused moves at the right time all while developing the capacity to tack in and out when the seas gets rough.
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