Slowing Down


Have you noticed that the pace of television shows and commercials has been picking up speed, year after year? The visuals are timed with sounds, too; the technology is stunning.

While listening to the radio as you drive, if there’s a second or two of silence, do you wonder what’s going on? When you use your computer or mobile device, have you come to expect an instant response every time you log on?

It seems like our amazing world of technology has programmed us to expect ever-faster gratification. We buy into it, take it for granted. As a result, it’s as if we’re caught up in a whirlwind of speed that we can’t control. And it may never occur to us to take a breath and slow down.

The fact is, it’s okay to slow down now and then, especially if going too fast creates problems: carelessness that leads to mistakes at work and school, miscommunication and feelings of anger and stress. Now, slowing down is not always correct. In competitive business and extreme situations – life and death situations – speed is of the essence. No argument there. And actually, some people are wired for speed, they enjoy going lightning-fast and they’re successful. But those folks are few and far between. For the rest of us, running at 100 miles per hour, day after day, can be costly. Speed is not always the answer. As in the old fable, “The Hare and The Tortoise”, slow and steady wins the race.

Many years ago I lived in San Francisco, a city with good public transportation and not much need to own a car. My job kept me working late into the night, and, not wanting to wait for the bus, I’d take a cab home. As a result, I’d gotten to know loads of San Francisco’s colorful cab drivers. Every one of them was a unique character. Old, young, rough around the edges, clothing a little messy from getting in and out of the cab all day long, smelling of tobacco smoke and even liquor. A few students sprinkled in among the veterans, and the occasional artist or actor. One of them was a student who was going great guns, as he told me, to make as much money as fast as possible in order to save for his college tuition. Another driver kept what looked like half a grocery store on the floor next to him in front of the passenger seat: chips, cookies, soft drinks, bags of peanuts, sandwiches. And stuffed between the passenger and driver seats was a small pistol in a holster.

On one particular night, I was taken home by a different kind of cabbie. Hank was his name, and he stood out so much that I remember the experience very well. For one thing, he was not dressed like the average cabbie. He wore a neat sports jacket over a dressy collared shirt buttoned to the top. His cab was clean and neat, and it even smelled pleasant. For another thing, unlike the other drivers who dashed from one fare to another, he drove slowly and smoothly, never rushed to make it through a traffic light, never had to stop suddenly.

The stark contrast between his driving, as compared with all the others, sparked my curiosity; so I asked him how he was able to take it so easy. Oh, I should mention something else: the reason Hank’s cab made such an impression on me was that I was a cab driver at the time, myself, working for the same company.

Hank asked, “What’s your name, kid?”

I said, “Bob.”

Hank said, “Well, Bob. You know, I’ll tell you. I’ve been doing this a long time. When I was young, I used to do like the other young drivers. Racing around like a maniac, knocking myself out, trying to make more money. After a few years, I figured out you don’t make no more money that way, and it just makes you nervous. Who needs it? I just take it easy. It’s the same money, you know?”

It has taken years to accept what Hank told me. Years of trying to do too much, too fast. I guess some habits die hard. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Have you ever felt exhausted because your body and mind have been doing the Indy 500 non-stop? It seems like there’s so much to do, and you don’t know where to start. If so, and you can feel what it’s doing to you, maybe you’re ready to change it up. Ask yourself whether you really have to go so fast all the time. Isn’t there a smarter way to get things done? Of course there is.

Interestingly, the negative impact of getting caught up in the pace of our world have produced some terrific ideas about the benefits of slowing down – and how to go about it.

Following are a few links to articles that you might enjoy. And, by the way … read them slowly.

If you’re interested in learning how to take it easy, please contact me. This is one of my life’s most important missions, and I’d love to be of service to you.