Slow it Down

Photo of a turtle

If there is one thing I will always remember my therapist saying when I got highly stressed, it’s to “slow it down”. And time and time again, when I do indeed do this, the results are far better than if I had kept banging my head against the wall. That by slowing it down, we can actually get to our desired destination faster.—yes, it’s true. Our emotions are easier to deal with at smaller scales, and mastering one small step gives us the confidence to take the next.

It is the tortoise that wins the race isn’t it? It’s not the fast, overexerting hare. Gary Vaynerchuk swears by this practice: “You may think I’m frantic…intense…fast…but look closer and understand: Patience matters.” [/] “I’m not going to become a billionaire overnight like Zucks or like Sacca or like Travis, but I’m going to get there as a tortoise. Which is going to confuse everybody because I have a hare’s costume.”

Pressfield talks about the importance of delayed gratification so not to rush into actions and decisions not thoroughly thought out. Quick is where mistakes are made. “The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out on each individual work.”

Josh Waitzkin, chess player and martial arts competitor, shares the idea of focusing on the micro instead of the macro. Master the smaller techniques and don’t be overwhelmed by the larger picture. When we focus on the brick-by-brick attention, we can slow it down and understand that each small action mastered will eventually build up to complete the grander view. After all, the cathedral is built brick-by-brick. The tortoise will get there faster by being patient, smart, and steady.

We can get somewhere faster by working slower. If you think about it, this is quite a beautiful thing and somewhat a sigh of relief. It’s okay to take a breath. You have time for this. This is a never-ending practice for me and a goal to constantly get better at.

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What is the Most Valuable Land?

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“What do you think is the most valuable land in the world?”

Several people threw out guesses, such as Manhattan, the oil fields of the Middle East, and the gold mines of South Africa, before our friend indicated that we were way off track. He paused for a moment, and said, “You’re all wrong. The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ One day, however, their tomorrows ran out.”

– Todd Henry, Die Empty

I like this thought because it reminds me that we only have one shot on this planet. There is another quote that says “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever does,” and I don’t want to be in this scenario. I want to leave a legacy at my grave, not a wonder of what could have been.

I’ve heard this question and answer a few times recently in other media channels, and it’s a good reminder to step back and reflect on what you’re doing with your life. It’s as valuable as you make it.

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The Ideal Team Player

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Patrick Lencioni has a great personality, and I really enjoy his compelling and humorous presentations. My favorite work of his is the concept that ideal team players are humble, hungry, and smart. You need all three. Not one of these characteristics can be missing.

Humble players don’t exude ego, nor do they downplay their skills. They emphasize team over self and understand that success is a collective effort.

Hungry players are always seeking more, and they are self-disciplined to look ahead and do more without the need to be motivated by a manager.

Lastly, there are smart players. Don’t be fooled into thinking smart is about intelligence. It’s about common sense, and smart players have good self-judgment and intuition about all actions and behaviors and how it will impact others. They have a conscious self-awareness.

We overvalue resumes and technical skills, but behavior always rises to the top. These are the three behaviors you want on your team. Accept nothing less.

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Remove Time Thieves

Know the difference between important and urgent, and do important first. – Steven Pressfield

Time is a Poor Indicator

Tim Ferriss argues that time spent at the office is a terrible metric for productivity. Often times we are spending our time doing unimportant tasks simply to fill up the time. Location in the office doesn’t mean you are spending time doing the right things. Focus on the 80/20 rule where 20% of the work produces 80% of the results. How do you know if something is important? Ask yourself, “If this was the only thing I did today, would I be happy with this day?”

Get rid of time thieves and focus only on what is important. Email is one of our greatest time thieves, and Ferriss stresses to not start our days by reading email, as do many other people I’ve researched. In fact, he challenges you to only check email twice a day and get it down to once per week. Can you imagine!?

Don’t Take Calls

Tim Ferriss says that one way we can save time is by letting phone calls go to voicemail, text, or email to answer later. Very rarely does a call require the need to interrupt your work at that moment to tend to its distraction. Add the task of addressing calls to the time block when you address email, and do it in a concentrated time.

Urgent verse Important Tasks

Maria Forleo highlights Steven Pressfield’s work when she describes that there is a difference between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks often only feel urgent, and these tasks will always keep you behind. The moment someone says “this task is urgent”, you put on hold your entire planned workflow to fix this one urgent thing. At this point, you get off track, and it eats up time to get back on track. Lastly, things that are “urgent” often relate to other people’s goals, not your own; therefore, it’s a bit hard to get your real mission work done.

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Hit the Buzzer First

Photo of a buzzer

In a MarieTV podcast episode, Seth Godin talks with Marie Forleo about not waiting for the right moment. Godin explains that some people are more productive than others because they have the instinct to ship, and they generate output by doing so. They don’t have an instinct to polish.

“Most people hesitate to ship not because it’s not ready but because they are afraid.”

Godin continues to share this concept with an observation about Jeopard. People who win at that game may not be smarter than the other contestants, but they know how to press the buzzer first. They hit the buzzer before they know the answer. In that last moment, they come up with a response to say. Whether it’s right or not, they seize the opportunity to try to win.

When you’re invited to give a presentation, when you’re given a project assignment, when you sign up for something to do–you don’t have that thing done before you commit to doing it. You hit the buzzer first and work on completing it before deadline. Most people hesitate to commit to anything because of fear in their output.

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