In Praise of Slow

You have an idea. It’s a great idea. You gather materials and carry it out. It doesn’t work. You give up. What made you think that would work, anyway?

Slow motion: One drop of cream being added to coffee.

Wait. Act fast, fail fast, criticize fast. All that speed doesn’t allow you to learn a damn thing. Cutting your losses doesn’t teach you anything except how to cut.

There is a huge benefit to doing things slowly. We live in a super-fast culture, but it’s the same culture that doesn’t like mistakes, that encourages blamestorming as a fair shot in competition.

What’s the benefit of slowing down?

Three water balloons bursting.

You can anticipate. Slowing down lets you think before you act. You can think through the next several steps to see if they are what you want, if those steps move you to the result. If they don’t, you can choose another plan.

Slowing down saves time. Anticipating helps you plan more than one step ahead, create a Plan B, and discover options. All that saves time. Saving time reduces anxiety and possibly money. All because you slowed down.

Practice helps you get it right. Slowing down allows you to practice your steps before you have to do them. Practicing anything, from a piano concerto to a speech, makes you better at it. “Winging it” will just result in making your mistakes public. Slow down. Practice. Then when you do it, it will work, and you will know how come it worked. That allows you to do it again–the right way.

Slowing down slows time down. When time slows down, you see more and you understand more. The more you understand, the more you learn, the more you can use what you know.

Excellence takes time. No one was born an expert. You are not the exception. When you do things step by step you can see mistakes, often before you make them. You have more time to do each step, if you aren’t racing. John Wheeler, the physicist, said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” Take advantage of time.

Quinn McDonald likes the idea of not always rushing.