As we take some time this weekend to contemplate and assess the new world that suddenly seems to be before us, I began to think about the importance of slowing down. Maybe it was my brush with death when a woman making a left-hand turn through the pedestrian walk as I was trying to cross the street came within inches of hitting me with her car, but it dawned on me again and again that we are too often in a hurry. She must have assumed I would get out of her way, and she clearly needed to get to where she was going as she zoomed up the street towards the freeway without a second thought.

I have been in the driver’s seat when I was too focused on something else, (my own desire to get somewhere or my own rambling brain), to notice a pedestrian trying to cross or a light switching from yellow to red. So while I was at first a bit mad and wishing I had noticed her license plate to call her in for reckless driving, I spent the rest of my walk recognizing the speed at which everyone is traveling through this world. This is not a novel idea, and it’s actually something I’ve wrestled with in terms of my own rushing about most of my adult life … pushing a bit too hard to get through a yellow light, taking on too much work so as to not enjoy any of it, or making a decision in haste without really asking the pertinent questions that must be asked.

Our driving speed is an apt analogy for the way we think as well. My belief is that we too often exchange critical, reflective thinking for the fast and furious exchange of information. We prefer the ease of connecting a USB cable between devices to the hard work that comes with being curious and inquisitive. This is not everyone all the time of course, but I do think it’s our default mode of operating. It’s simpler to digest a handful of headlines or tweets than digesting fully researched stories, long-form journalism, or simply an in-depth interview.

The challenge of USB thinking is something we see often with leaders and organizations overwhelmed by too many commitments. It’s not that quick, even impulsive thinking is always wrong, but it is usually less-than-ideal. Giving yourself more time to slow down, contemplate and carefully think through a problem, generally results in more potential ideas, more pitfalls anticipated, and more people considered, resulting in a solution more likely to work and work well, with fewer negative impacts.

To steal an adage from great carpenters: measure twice, cut once … think twice, act once.


Your Break Through Post # 49 {Vol. 2, Ed. 3}