fastness and slowness

17 why do we

Both have a right moment and a wrong moment.

Once an idea leaves your imagination, it will change. But, ‘With anticipation, we can endure.’*

The person who’s unprepared for this will be knocked sideways when things don’t happen the way they imagine.  But the person who anticipates, who puts in the slow work first and then later, more slow work:

‘We’re like runners who train on hills or at altitude so they can beat the runners who expected the course to be flat.’*

The slow work of deep practice – ways of behaving, relating, or thinking – creates speed.  Deep practice pushes and stretches more and further.  Both skills and character are developed in this way.  Neither are developed quickly, though it appears they are because they’re developed in hiddenness to the eyes of the many.  But their development allow us to begin and move fast, and to learn and develop more on the way.

Edwin Land, taking pictures on holiday, was asked by his three year old daughter why they couldn’t see their pictures straight away.  The question struck Land with the force of “Why not?”  He’d already done the slow work of building a business on light polarisation.  He had enough to begin figuring out how to make a camera with a dark room built in.  It would take another thirty years to develop the colour version of a Polaroid camera but he was prepared for this.  Land later reflects:

“If you dream of something worth doing and then simply go to work on it … if you think of it, detail by detail, what you have to do next, it is a wonderful dream even if the end is a long way off, for there are about five thousand steps to be taken before we realise it; and start making the first ten, and stay making twenty after, it is amazing how quickly you get through those five thousand steps.”**

‘Going slow allows executive function to take over.  Executive function consists of focusing and ignoring distractions, remembering and using new information, planning and revising the plan, and inhibiting fast, impulsive thoughts and actions.’^

(*From Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way.)
(**Quoted in Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)
(^From Martin Seligman’s Flourish.)


One thought on “fastness and slowness

  1. Pingback: the magnificently wonderful emporium of travel | THIN|SILENCE

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