Why Slow Means Success

Wisdom says that urgency and speed bring mistakes. Slow down. Think. Then act.

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An African leader once admonished his followers that they must go slowly because they were in a hurry. President Dwight Eisenhower used to tell his cabinet: "Let's not be a hurry to make our mistakes." A mantra often used in the military is "Fast is slow, slow is fast."

All of this guidance goes against the rush, rush, faster, faster tone of many workplaces. Few issues require an immediate response. The notion that faster is inherently better deserves to be challenged.

Technology is partly to blame. Thanks to computers, instant messaging, and E-mail, we can make our mistakes more quickly than ever, and the expectation of a rapid response has become an epidemic. Many of us fondly recall the old days when the arrival of a letter was followed by a generous amount of time to ponder the appropriate response. Today, you get an E-mail or fax in the morning and a query on the matter's status in the afternoon.

We need to slow down in order to think. We should also remove the stigma that is too often attached to the individual who is unwilling to rattle off solutions. Those fast answers are often eloquent, witty, and wrong.

Slowing down will improve the quality of our decisions. It may even improve the quality of our lives.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.

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