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Slowing It Down and Doing Less With More

Published December 1, 2016

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Things aren’t slowing down anytime soon so it is up to us as leaders, fathers, husbands, wives, mothers, and students to take some action against the urgent and important. This is not the typical leadership advice you get from many of the great resources out there but I believe that instead of trying to do more with less, we need to start doing less with more. Do less work with more thoughtfulness. Do less hurrying through your day with more intentionality towards the things that really matter. Do less overreacting to problems by asking more questions.
Do less. And do it more slowly. This is not intuitive in this day and age of 24/7 connectedness, I totally get it. However, we are a society on the edge of burnout and if we don’t slow down the world around us, than we will end up losing control of our destination, direction, and discipline. At the breakneck pace of the world today no one can sustain top performance without taking the necessary time to refuel, recharge, and unplug. That looks different for everybody. For some, it’s shutting the laptop and turning off the phone. For others it’s taking a long walk. For some it’s reading a book to their kids. Or just reading a book. I am convinced that the key to happiness is less of anything that creates distractions and keeps us from what we truly love.
In the context of leadership, the art of slowing it down and doing less with more is just as important as it is for our personal lives. Many of us lead teams of people, some of us lead tens, hundreds, or thousands of people, some of just lead ourselves. Regardless, the ability to slow down what is happening around us as leaders is incredibly important. A good leader knows how to slow down the process without slowing down the progress. Sometimes in the heat of battle a leader can think that they need to pull the trigger on a decision and that it has to be done right now, and more often than not it simply doesn’t. There is a lot of value in slowing down the chaos going on around you in the midst of a high pressure situation and the best way to do that is by asking more questions. Dig deeper. Clarify. Paraphrase. Get the folks around you to calm down, because you are calm. Model what grace under pressure looks like. Ask more questions.
Slowing it down also allows you to be a better teacher, coach and developer of people. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, responsibility a leader has is to develop those around them to be as good or better than they are. And the art of slowing it down is a great way to instill good decision making into their leadership DNA. This is so important. Don’t miss it. The thing that you don’t do in the heat of the moment is just as important as the things that you actually do. Are you fighting fires, or are you preventing the fire in the first place? Are you proactively leading with vision or are you reacting to temporary circumstances? Are you orchestrating your plan in times of crisis or overreacting to the drama?
If you can develop the skill of slowing the process down, you will ensure the progress that is achieved is far beyond what you had hoped for, and you will have created the opportunity for those you lead to learn how to do less with more in the process.