*Photo by Andy Beales Unsplash.com
For most of my life, I’ve been in a hurry.
While I was in full-time graduate school, I also worked 32 hours a week. I was so fried by the weekend that I would drive 8 hours on Friday night from LA to Utah to go backpacking just to escape and recharge.
After I completed my degree, I carried these habits into my working life. I crammed every space in my calendar. I became obsessed with productivity research. I wanted to maximize every moment.
I became very efficient with my professional time—and packed the weekends with great memories.
But I failed to see what this was doing to me on the inside.
In my whirlwind of efficiency, moments of real peace became scarce. I was restless, agitated, and impatient. It’s no surprise that my listening skills degraded quickly.
My mind was racing, and I was constantly living in the future—not here in the present moment. I was always setting the next goal, instead of stopping to appreciate everything I already had.
Thankfully, a mentor of mine called me out. Through books and blunt comments, he began to challenge my lifestyle. He taught me that sometimes you have to slow down to go fast. That racing through life is no way to live.
Role models for the manically driven leader are everywhere in the modern world. Every minute of their week is booked before the week starts, so that work spills over the edges into evenings and weekends. Email is like machine gun fire.
Ever since the term “sense of urgency” was introduced into the business world, leaders around the globe have been picking up the pace—and passing this tendency along to their teams and organizations, then bringing that habit home to their families. Devices have unquestionably dumped rocket fuel on this problem.
Frankly, I long to be a different kind of leader.
Several years after I joined the ranks of manic leadership, I came across the following quote:
“You can’t give away something you don’t possess.” –John Maxwell
I longed to be the kind of leader that gave away a deep sense of peace, strength, and calm to others—to my team and my family. One who quietly empowered others to stretch their potential, love others well, and step into their gifts. One who created space for others.
But inside me was restlessness, impatience, and fear.
How could I give away strength, peace, and patience when my internal reality was so different?
Author and monk Thomas Merton went so far as to say that busyness is a modern form of violence?! When I first read that, I dismissed the statement as ridiculous. Obviously, he was ignorant of the incredible productivity hacks I had discovered.
Thankfully, his wisdom continued to nag at me.
I noticed something…
- When I rush through a meeting with a team member, I can’t listen. I send the message that I don’t have time for them. That they are not important.
- When my toddler won’t do what I want, and I hurriedly scoop her up—she cries.
- When my wife uses more words than I would, and I tell her to get to the point—relational damage occurs.
Yes—hurry is a form of violence.
Don’t get me wrong. There is certainly a place for deadlines, urgency, and accountability— but these things can easily become the sole focus—and there is a price tag, a dark side.
As a goal-oriented person, I must constantly remind myself not to fall into the trap of mission over relationship.
Most situations in life—at work or at home—benefit much more from a relationship over mission approach.
“The journey with others is always slower than the journey alone, but also more worthwhile.” –John Maxwell
Many highly successful people admit they became successful largely because of the relationships they had.
Modern neuroscience also reveals that people who live in a constant state of busyness develop a kind of chronic hypervigilance. This state activates the brains threat sensors and degrades our ability for creative problem solving. It narrows our field of vision, literally and cognitively. Needless to say—this is not an ideal posture from which to lead and influence others.
When I catch myself rushing through life I remember the Sniper’s mantra—Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
This approach almost always yields better results in the long run, and has the added bonus of preserving what all the happiness research says makes life worth living—relationships.
Turn information into action
- Stop talking. There is nothing that forces you to slow down like listening. If you have ever tried to work on your listening skills, you know this habit is very hard to change. It is a lost art and an increasingly rare commodity in our modern world of 8-second attention spans (Study by Microsoft 2018).
- Schedule blank space. Performance psychology research consistently affirms that humans need consistent breaks to function optimally. Breaks need to occur daily and weekly. I recommend at least one day of zero work. Take the long view of your career and make sure you get plenty of rest along the journey. You are no good to your business or your family when you are constantly running on empty. If you have control over scheduling meetings for your team, eliminate some meetings and free up your team to focus on impactful work and feel less pressured.
- Buy less stuff. This might seem strange at first. But every single possession we allow into our lives takes more time than we think it will. We easily forget that possessions require a lot of time for maintenance, repair, storage, insurance, or disposal. Hyper-consumption can also steal our ability to be present and practice gratitude. And besides, less stuff means you reap the added benefit of saving money (something research also shows most people are not doing).
Have a great weekend!
If you like to listen to podcasts on similar topics, check out The Next Peak Podcast at https://shows.acast.com/the-next-peak-podcast/ or find in your Podcast app. Parker is now the co-host of this show.
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
- Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Mueller
- Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown
- Becoming Minimalist by Joshua Becker