In Praise of Slowness

May 2007 by Peter Hiddema

The title of this article is also the title of a tremendous book I have just read, given to me by a dear friend and colleague.  You know when you come across something that really hits home, and awakens a foundational voice you had inside of that was just looking for a way to express itself?  This book was one of those events for me. 

The book resonated with me on a profound level, and I realize it is the kind of thing I have been working on actively. 

Written in 2004 by London, England-based Canadian journalist Carl Honoré, this excellent work describes how we have become increasingly caught up in what he refers to as “the cult of speed”.  This trend has particularly taken hold since the age of industrialization.  In an eminently readable and enjoyable style, Mr. Honoré walks the reader through the process by which we have progressively been taken over by the urge to do everything faster, and along the way, illustrates how frequently this simply does not work for us as a species.
The vehicle I have been using for the past two years to address this slippery slope for myself is a superb program for entrepreneurs, called “The Strategic Coach”.  The program is all about helping restore a balance in one’s life, including taking sufficient time off, delegating what you’re not good at, etc, so that you can:

• Make a greater contribution to those around you;
• Achieve the goals you have set for yourself in your life, and;
• Most importantly, ENJOY THE JOURNEY of achieving them. 

Why?  Well, how often have you completed something you were working SO hard to accomplish, only to feel an emptiness upon completion?  Or, worse yet, how often have you barely even taken note of its completion because you were so busy with the other 30 things you are working on?  I am guilty as charged. 

I have long struggled with this dilemma, and I finally can see that I have made significant progress in the past two years (and, I’ve still got a long way to go).  I am so proud of myself when I stop to notice.  And, in a way, that is the point – WHEN I STOP TO NOTICE. 

What is abundantly clear to me is that this dilemma is not just a problem for me as an entrepreneur.  This is a problem of mammoth proportion, for many, many people the world over.  I have for years observed the ever-increasing pace of the Fortune 500 companies that I consult to.  In these days of universal and instant telephone, email, and SMS access, I notice a seemingly endless acceleration of what I call “churning”. 

Tune into my next article for more on this.  After all, in our culture of speed, I have almost certainly exhausted your willingness to read an article of this length. 🙂

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