Slow down to get faster

I recently caught some of the Formula One race in Monte Carlo on TV and something happened which stuck in my mind. The leading driver, Lewis Hamilton, got something in his eye, and this problem caused him to lose precious seconds at the head of the race, and to lose time repeatedly lap after lap. He was complaining about his discomfort via his on-board radio but he didn’t at any time slow down to remove the eyelash – or whatever it was – nor did he take a pit-stop. If he had used some time to rectify the situation, he would have got faster again (his car was the best on the track) and could then have won more comfortably in the end, instead of risking his own safety for the sake of maintaining his speed (which was counter-productive anyway).

Sometimes, you just have to slow down to get faster. Slowing down gives you time to remove the hurdles, take the jumps and produce better quality in the long-run.

Take Sir John Franklin, the Arctic explorer, and the fascinating subject of Sten Nadolny’s book “The Discovery of Slowness”. In his book*, Nadolny portrays how a seeming disability enables Franklin to wait, because he must wait, and apply “slowness” to all things. As a consequence, he attains unimaginable victories which astonish the more ‘hurried’ multitude around him. His slowness is the secret to his success.

So, focus on the task at hand (although I’m NOT advocating perfectionism here!) and don’t multi-task, slow down in your work and see what happens – I’ll wager better quality, better nerves and a better sense of time overall.

Furthermore, if you’re building your business, take a pit-stop from time to time. You’ll find that the ‘breather’ you award yourself will pay dividends in the long run. You’ll be more refreshed and creative when you go back. This can be a short break every hour, or a full day off a week when you remove yourself completely from your work activities.

Beavering away like a power house might fit with your own perception of what it means to be a successful entrepreneur but sometimes, slowing down can be a chance to savour and enjoy the ride.

After all, life is a journey, and so is running your own business.
Have fun – and slow down!
Louise

*“The Discovery of Slowness” by Sten Nadolny: Original title die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit, translated from the German by Ralph Freedman, 1983 Viking Penguin

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Looking after the rocks first … or mindful priority-setting

The following story is one that’s been circulating for a while. It holds a very important message regarding setting priorities in our lives – whether we are business owners or not:
A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a large glass jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They laughed and agreed that it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions.
If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

Take care of the rocks first – things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.

Even if this story is not new to you, let it trigger a reminder that the rocks really do matter. You can label the glass jar “My working day”, “My business” or “My life in general” and decide on the priorities (rocks) for each one. Just like Diane Keaton had a jar of white pebbles on her desk in the film “Something’s gotta give” (appropriately named film in this case!) you can even use a real jar and real stones as an ornamental and subtle reminder to make time for what really matters in life.

Source used for re-telling the pebble story with grateful thanks:
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=264&page=2

The self-care checklist for entrepreneurs…and everyone else!

I found the following five self-care practices in Robin Sharma’s new book ‘The Saint, the Surfer & the CEO and have condensed them into a blog- friendly checklist ( with my own take on them) here:

1) Shift from complexity to simplicity

Ask yourself each day: How can I make my life simpler? From delegating unloved routine tasks to taking action on something right now, rather than procrastinating, can free us up some precious time to do the really rewarding stuff like speak to customers and definitely decrease stress levels!

2) Keep a daily practice of journaling

In this high- tech world of ours it is still very therapeutic to take out some pen and paper in th form of a notebook or journal and record, without judgement, whatever comes into our head. How did your day go? What are you grateful for? What did you learn today?

3) Make the time to have a ‘ silent retreat’ each day

This is a daily period of peace and can be as simple as closing your office door, transferring your calls to voicemail and savouring the view from your window for five minutes. Time to ‘ check in’ with your inner, wise self. Even some stretching, or just concentrating on your breathing. We can all find five minutes,right?

4) Commune with nature

Take time after work, for example, to have a walk in the woods or stroll on the beach or take your lunch to the local park for a change. Practice mindfullness and listen to the birds. Be one with th force that created you.

5) Nurture your body

Your body really is a temple. Stay as fit as you can. Take the stairs. Make informed choices about what you eat and drink. Have a massage. You deserve it!

Making time each day to do these five practices is a great act of self- care. It all sounds so simple, yet we busy folk often neglect ourselves and fall into the trap of living only for The Business. Even something as simple as baking a cake or a spot of gardening can centre us again and de- stress us.

Let me know what self-care means to you.

Til the next time,

Louise

P.S. Robin Sharma’s book ‘The Saint, The Surfer & the CEO’ is published by HAY HOUSE, 2013.