I’ve been working out with a trainer for the past few years, mostly because I’m too lazy to go to the gym on my own. But also because I want to get better at working out. I want to be more efficient and not waste time doing stuff that doesn’t matter, etc.
My biggest problem has been slowing down. I tend to work out too fast. Lift too fast, do crunches too fast, do pushups too fast, etc. It may sound counterintuitive, but you can actually waste time by doing things too quickly.
I haven’t been able to catch myself when I’m going too fast. I’m certainly capable of slowing down, and I fundamentally understand the benefits of slowing down, but I just couldn’t come up with something that pops in my head to encourage me to slow down when I find myself going too fast.
Then my trainer asked me what I would do if I had three darts, had already thrown two, and I only had one shot left at hitting the bullseye.
I told him I’d slow down. I’d take a deep breath, measure the distance, mock a few practice throws back and forth, settle in, focus, and throw. I wouldn’t rush up there and just toss the thing.
And it clicked for me. When you really want to do something right, which is usually what you should be striving for, you tend to slow down.
Of course it’s all relative as some things are more important to get right than other things, and there’s often external context which may make slowing down impossible, but in general, given the opportunity, you’d slow down to get something right.
And while some things really do require split-second decision making, the worst thing to do is to invent artificial urgency and cheat yourself.
Anonymous Cowardon 20 May 11
The flipside is … companies too slow lose.
yosepon 20 May 11
Ha… a great point. I come to your blogs almost every day to get encouragements; and I think I got more than what I expected. It actually feels better than beating my co-worker at ping pong a few minutes ago. I come here because you are already doing what I want to do. Maybe all I need to do is to slow down…. Thanks.
Rich Son 20 May 11
How about v1 fast, v2 slow?
Diegoon 20 May 11
I recommend you this article www.mensjournal.com/everything-you-know-about-fitness-is-a-lie/print/.
It lead me to Mark Rippetoe’s book ‘Starting Strength’, probably the best book ever written in the topic of fitness in general and strength training in particular.
His writing style is as good as his technical expertise and you will feel very identified with it’s principles (hint: simplicity). ‘RETRAIN’ would be a good title for this book.
Get the dvd too and you will have everything you need to get in the best shape of your life in a few months.
Can’t recommend it enough.
Bryanon 20 May 11
You should look into the book “Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferris. He explains how to do some of the most efficient workouts in as little as 20-30 minutes twice a week with better results than the typical 1-2 hour workouts everyday.
I think your much more likely to keep at something and not give up if its as simple as a few minutes every week instead of trying to bust your ass inefficiently in the gym for 2 hours every day.
Anonymous Cowardon 20 May 11
Only if they’re followers. Leaders can lead slowly if they are doing things no one else is doing.
Chrison 20 May 11
Why do people always cheat themselves – I know I’m guilty of it… Great post! Slow and steady wins the race right?
Bob Amanon 20 May 11
This was the key insight for me when I was learning jiu jitsu as well. All the white belts spar at maximum speed, with maximum force, and no technique. Everyone else goes slow, taking their time and doing the techniques correctly. White belts occasionally win scrambles, but for everything else, they get completely dominated by the upper belts who are simply performing the techniques correctly.
Anonymous Cowardon 20 May 11
What’s the cost of a personal trainer like this?
Steve Butterworthon 20 May 11
Your right, you can be too quick, absolutely, I have this problem. In an age where where speed, agility, being first seems to be everything you are definitely motivated to be fast. After all time is our most valuable asset. But fast for the sake of fast usually means cutting too many corners and doing a bad job. Yet slow means we run out of cash or inspiration (its perishable™) or arrive late which is also bad. It’s these trade offs that really aren’t that obvious and mean only a few succeed with their ambitions.
Alexon 20 May 11
Absolutely! It’s just like going after cheap/bargain can actually cost you more money, being too fast can cost you time.
Justineon 20 May 11
Intentionally slowing down to get things right is one thing (and definitely commendable) but unfortunately, some companies suffer from too much bureaucracy that tend to slow them down, preventing them from keeping up with the pace of their competitors and the market in general.
1thrasheron 20 May 11
I learned this same lesson (again) on the driving range last year. I would get a large bucket of balls, and just crank away until I was exhausted and my shots were all over the place.
Then I read a couple of books on golf. I remember reading Ben Hogan would spend considerable time just staring at the range and the ball. He would often hit only 20 balls or so over an hour. (I was going through that in 10 minutes.) As soon as I started to slow down and focus, everything became clearer and my swing improved.
Likewise, I often take 5-10 minute walks around my office during the day. I’m convinced these walks force me to slow down, disengage from work for a moment, and I’m refreshed enough to get back into my project for another hour or so. More times than I care to count, I have found myself pulling my hair out over a problem, only to go for a 10-minute walk and come back with an easy (and sometimes obvious) solution.
John Charuon 20 May 11
This very much applies to target shooting as well.
Other things being equal the guy that slows down is always the most best performing.
Sébastien Grosjeanon 20 May 11
Nice post. Can only agree with the need to take enough time.
Pro sportive usually knows that well. You won’t get high performance by rushing. You need training, relaxation and strong mental.
Designers, developers and today’s wanna-change-the-world-of-computing, like I am and most readers are I guess, tends to run to quick, you got an idea and need it done right away. That is sooo wrong!
When you get a bright idea, step back! Take the time to think it through. Sleep on it, do something else to take your mind of it. Then get back to it a day or week later with a clear view of it, you’ll end up saving so much time and energy if it’s finally worst following it.
“companies too slow lose.”, I don’t agree at all. I think companies to fast does lose! going to fast makes you loose the point, misunderstand the goal and finally overcook things. Companies needs to be reactive, but need to take enough distance to get things done right.
Apple and their iPhone is a great example to me, they didn’t went in the smartphone market in the early days, they certainly didn’t rush into the market as soon as they thought it was profitable. They took time to make the difference.
As for the working out part, making it slow while thinking how your muscle works will make the effort much more useful and effective. However, watching out your whole alimentation, getting enough sleep and making sure to keep relaxed is also a must so many people forget.
Thank you Jason for reminding all of us to slow down.
Michaelon 20 May 11
Words to live by…truly. Well said.
The “art” of slowing down is often challenging for the fast paced innovators (we all know who we are). At the end of the day, the best businesses, services, products, innovations, etc. are built with this mentality.
We can all get somewhere fast, but it’s about balance, clarity, focus, and ultimately…doing “it” right (in our eyes, and in “their” eyes).
Dainon 21 May 11
Thanks for inspiring me. I am going through back problems (Sciatica and lower lumbar strain) at the moment and have a hard time even dealing with it. It is hard to get inspired to do the physical exercises that I should be doing at some points.
So, I really appreciate this attitude of be slow and precise yet efficient and aware. I still haven’t read Tim’s new book 4 hour Body but It is on my library list – that’s for sure. Hope it helps.
Richardon 21 May 11
Solid points, Jason. I see this all the time at work. People get into total spaz mode and have no idea why.
I like to work deliberately. I love when I hit a rhythm. It’s not always real slow, but it’s feels right and things are clicking. Inevitably, I get the look that says “Why aren’t you joining us in the group spaz exercise?”
It’s as though people think you care less if you aren’t showing some outward expression of urgency.
I think life offers enough of that without having to try to manifest it.
Thanks for shedding some light on the value of slowing down.
Monicaon 21 May 11
I think that intervals work best – in fitness, personal as well as professional life. As you rightly pointed out – some things are more important to get right than others – and those are the things requiring extra concentration, effort & attention to detail in order to deliver the best possible & of the highest quality result.. Those are the things that require us to slow down & take stock before plowing ahead. Rushing is not good, and it is not sustainable either. We need time to re-energize & eliminate the routine so that we are fresh, fully aware & in a better position to tackle any problems that come our way.. let it be a tough set of weights, an uphill run, an intense period before a major release or closing a deal, etc, etc. In order to do our best & achieve great results, we need to slow down and prepare ourselves for the challenge, both mentally & physically..
Monicaon 21 May 11
And the general truth also applies – it’s about the quality, not quantity..
Randy Weekson 21 May 11
Great thoughts. Helpful to me in all areas of life. Another way I’ve noticed the truth about moving too fast is when I’m walking along thinking about something and I try to remember some point… and all of a sudden find myself slowing down or even stopping while I reflect and remember whatever it is. I can’t really speed along and simultaneously remember something important. Thanks for this fine post.
Jyoton 21 May 11
Great thought when you’re established but not so much when you are a start-up.
Kay Pon 21 May 11
You are right on with Apple and Steve Jobs. They have the same thing. Don’t do anything too quick and wait till what they have is good. Second iteration is greater.
Aditya Athalyeon 21 May 11
I know what you mean and there’s another important qualitative lesson following your post: whenever pace builds up, to learn to become aware of it – and then go one step further – to pause and distinguish if it is produced by finding inspiration versus by having introduced artificial urgency.
The former is error-prone but creative, the latter is error-prone and counterproductive… and while it’s great to go with the flow, it’s cheating to allow oneself to get carried away.
You’re right. Some things are more important to get right than other things.
SUon 22 May 11
Reminds me of the phrase “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.“
John Dennehyon 22 May 11
There’s a story of a heart surgeon who when presented with a chronically ill patient in need of surgery said: “slow down, we don’t have a minute to loose.”
Markon 22 May 11
“He that can have patience can have what he will”—Benjamin Franklin
AstonJon 22 May 11
Are there other areas where you feel you are rushing too? (Such as reading.) Are you becoming irritated more easily? If so it could be toxic/antinutrient overload.
I mention this because I’m the same when I’ve strayed from my fairly clean diet. (What you posted rang a bell so thought it worth mentioning.)
Point 3 here covers it briefly: http://astonj.com/life/best-way-to-learnreadstudy/
Timon 24 May 11
Yes and no.
Sometimes, longer is better.
I lost 25kg to get from 88kg to 63kg (something like 200lbs to 130lbs).
Jason, get on a road bike dude. Get into the TDF, Giro, RVV, Paris-Roubaix, Vuelta. Suck it up.
It’ll change your life, swear to god #pointbreakrules
Ahmedon 24 May 11
There’s nothing better that thinks wisely, do not rush and watch good result unless it’s ER. I remember I was working on design for some widget for a client. I was really taking care of each pixel, colours and layout in general. I had enough time to design it the way I want with passion and art “if I can see that”. While I was doing that, a friend of mine, was really annoyed and surprise how I’m wasting my time and taking too long “according to him” to finish that design. He said clients don’t care about that, just do a job quickly, rush it and get the money. Don’t be perfect. I disagreed with him of course. I did it the way it should be done and result was great. Client was happy and I get more money for doing that plus respect for talking care of my job. I told my friend about that and he was surprised “as he was before, but now agreed with me” how clients are looking for good result even if they will spend more money and time. The way I worked on that project, built a culture for me with my clients and work in general, which is become reputation that I’m so proud to have, because I was taking my time “not extra/overtime” and not rushed. So; yes slow down.
Sharingmatterson 24 May 11
“artificial urgency” – that’s what it is! We tend to be driven externally. We think we have to do something but in fact we artificially push ourselves to hard. It’s good to wake up.
John Topleyon 24 May 11
As a qualified and educated professional, I’d like to think that what the surgeon actually said was “slow down, we don’t have a minute to lose.”
Kev @vigormusicon 26 May 11
There’s a fantastic Ted Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/carl_honore_praises_slowness.html
and book on this subject. http://www.amazon.com/Praise-Slowness-Worldwide-Movement-Challenging/dp/006054578X
Slowing down and being mindful have helped me tremendously.
This discussion is closed.