When I was a kid, I remember the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare.” They’re having a race. The tortoise starts out really slow. The hare almost gets to to the finish line, but decides to sit next to a tree. The hare falls asleep and the slow and steady tortoise passes the hare to win the race. Slow and steady wins the race.
The point of this story is to teach perseverance and to stop the urge to sprint and expend too much energy at once. Also, the hare is arrogant and thinks he has the race and takes a break early. Obviously terrible qualities!
Does Slow and Steady Win?
But sometimes it’s best to have chapters of sprinting and chapters of pausing. Sometimes it’s working 60+ hours per week to launch a dream business. You keep a full time job, but you’re building your dream. Sometimes it’s phases of parenting. Or when you’re a sandwich parent that is taking care of parents and kids. The reality is, life isn’t really a marathon where we never stop. Instead, it’s a bunch of sprints and rests.
When I think about slowing down, I think about stopping and sitting on a hill. The sun is rising (I’m like how the heck did I get up this early, obviously this IS a dream!) and crisp air hits my meditative yoga pose.
The reality is, I’m probably never going to meditate on a mountain at sunrise. Even when I was hiking through Nepal, the crisp air never called me as strong as the warm sleeping bag.
In our heads, we equate slowing down with stopping. Yes, it can be that. It can be that we just need to unplug and go on vacation. But a vacation is hard to sustain. When I talk about slowing down, I’m talking about reducing, eliminating and stopping.
Reduce, Eliminate and Stop
We may need to reduce what we we do and how we do it. This might be that we intentionally check email less. Also, we might eliminate tasks that are just filling space and taking away from a healthier and happier life. This change could be that we outsource our laundry or stop doing the tasks in our businesses that we dread.
But there is a time for stopping. It’s not usually three weeks in Nepal, but the principle is the same. Throughout history, every major religion and social movement has encouraged fasting, sabbath or boundaries.
Growth Over Reaction
When we don’t have a specific focus in our life, it’s easy to live in a responsive and reactive manner, instead of a planned growth approach.
We have to get to that email, that soccer practice, that homemade meal or that family obligation.
But we don’s ask ourselves, “Why did we commit to soccer ever single Saturday? Is that good for our family and relationships?”
Slow Down, Spark, Creation
Ever notice how your best ideas come when you’re in the shower, working out or about to fall asleep? When our brains aren’t focused on work, they tend to sort through all the ideas. Then, when we least expect it, they pop up.
There’s a natural cycle of slowing down, sparks and creation. The problem is, most of our entrepreneur minds have trouble slowing down. Our “slow down” is to watch Netflix, read a marketing book or listen to a podcast.
Genuine slowing down allows our brains to decompress, dream, and check out. When this happens, sparks of creativity start to fly. Then comes planning and focus to create something innovative.
Conferences like the Slow Down Conference help spark this process to create habits and see outcomes.
Intentionally slowing down is about deciding what we can do to take clear steps toward a healthier life, one that intentionally starts with betterment of self, those around us, and our communities. Maybe the hare actually was onto something!