Are You Moving Too Fast?
Who Controls the Speed?
One of the recurring conversations that has come up with coaching clients and potential clients in the last few weeks is pacing.
Pacing. What Does That Mean Exactly?
At a certain stage of life ambitious, driven, talented people like us find ourselves going all out for what we want. That might mean working long hours, it might mean pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and it gets results.
To a point anyway.
But later, we realise that moving at this pace is damaging. Often to our physical health, sometimes to our mental health, and always at a cost to our relationships and, ultimately, our achievements.
It's like stretching a piece of elastic -- you stretch it too far and it loses its elasticity -- meaning it will no longer fall back into shape when you release it and it can no longer perform the function it's designed for.
Thankfully, most of us can bounce back, or protect ourselves in the first place, as soon as we shift the way we operate.
What usually happens, as we make these changes to how we work, then what we want also changes.
We still want success, we're still driven to achieve, but that achievement becomes oriented to contribution and to making an impact -- rather than ambition for its own sake. We often start to search for more meaning in our lives.
And the key to unlocking more of what we want, and in a way that is more sustainable and productive, is how we pace what we do.
Slow Down to Speed Up?
I have a friend who interviewed the Kenyan men's running team a few years ago. One thing surprised him more than any other. It wasn't how fast the guys ran, or how often they trained. It was what they did in their downtime.
"Cathy," he told me, "I can't believe how much time they spend lounging around doing nothing. And when they walk anywhere, the pace is soooo slow! But when they run -- oh boy -- there's no way I can even attempt to keep up."
Think about that for a moment: going more slowly is part of going faster.
Pacing isn't about achieving less, it isn't about protecting yourself from burn-out; it's about achieving more, just differently. It's about moving at a pace that keeps you injury-free, that gives you space for creativity, so that you can be 'on' fully and intensively in the moments you need it so that you can make a bigger contribution to the things you choose to do.
Maybe there is somewhere you can apply this principle of pacing? Somewhere you can slow down to preserve your energy, so that it's there when you need to go faster? I'd love you to try it out and see what happens!