Slow down for urgency

by | Aug 11, 2011 | Blog | 0 comments

A sense of urgency—both the mindset and John Kotter’s book —are helpful coping mechanisms for today’s turbulent world.

To be successful with urgency, though, you need to slow down every now and then, especially at the start. Yes, this is the old phrase “Go slow first to go fast later.”

Two recent experiences reinforced this for me. First, in the Results Coaching Program I’m taking with the NeuroLeadership Group, we’re learning how the brain gets insights. An insight gives you the power to help you solve your own problem. An insight also shines the light on an important issue. You get these insights and other ah-ha’s when your brain makes meaningful connections.

The brain is normally a connection machine. But like most machines, it works better when we’re operating it under optimal conditions and maintaining it well.

To get more and better insights, you need to take these four actions, according to David Rock and our other trainer/coaches:

  1. Quiet our brains to reduce all of the electrical activity going on. This means slowing down.
  2. Be internally focused. That is, look inside and let your mind wander rather than be stimulated by external factors. (Put away that smartphone!)
  3. Think positive or pleasant thoughts, like Peter Pan.  (Or at least not be fearful.)
  4. Think or do something else, not the problem you’re trying to solve.

So trying to speed dial insights doesn’t work. Nor does traditional brainstorming get you the best results, especially if the session is crammed between two other meetings late in the day.

But even before you try to get insights to solve your problems, it’s helpful to stop and plan. The act of planning requires you to slow down to think, which often results in better thinking and better plans.

By developing plans, you not only decide what to do. But you also prevent yourself and others from immediately jumping in and doing things the way you’ve automatically done them.

This has been a huge insight for me, even a V8 moment. Einstein’s quote that “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” now has new meaning.

So if we hold back an bit and think out the situation first rather than rush in and start to act, we improve our chances for betting thinking, better solutions and better results.

My second experience is applying this learning and getting get results. Typically, for my own projects (not my clients’ projects), I plan in my head. But now that I’m taking the time to write my plans (actually post them to Basecamp), I’m finding I’m creating more thorough plans. And I’m following through better.

I wish my neighbor who’s been remodeling her house for more than two years would get this insight. With all of the construction noise at all times of the day and night, it’s often hard to hear myself think. Maybe I need a version of her “No Trespassing” sign to give my brain some quiet time. Or maybe I need to channel Frank Purdue whom I featured in my last blog post.

How about you? Can you slow down to go faster later? If so, what works for you? And what are your insights?


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