Warning: You Might Be Moving Too Fast

Last week fellow blogger Nate explored the New Era of Speed and the idea that our appetite for speed is stronger than ever. I happen to agree with him; however, I also believe that we’re misapplying speed in our daily lives. Trust me, I’m as guilty as the next person, but I think we can learn a lot if we slow down. Perhaps a few examples might help?

To Go, Please – On my way to work one recent morning, I stopped at a favorite local sandwich shop to grab a cup of coffee and bagel before my morning of meetings. It was unclear who was next in line so I offered the girl next to me go first. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the girl behind the counter huffed, “Somebody go! I don’t have time for this!” My immediate sassy (internal) thought was, “Really? Where are you going?!” since I was the one with a morning full of meetings and was trying to be nice. But I’m trying to curb my sassiness, so I said nothing and told the girl to go ahead of me. I used to stop at the shop weekly, but I haven’t been back since. While the coffee and bagels are good, the misused speed in customer service left a bad taste in my mouth.

Yesterday – It’s happened to all of us. Someone asks you for something and when you ask when they need it they answer, “yesterday.” Unless you have access to Doc Brown’s Delorean, there’s no way you’re going to make that deadline and it immediately sets off a sense of urgency that might not actually be necessary. I know no one actually means “yesterday” but why set your colleagues, spouse, friends, etc. up to fail? We’re all guilty of it but next time you need something quickly, consider giving deadline that they might actually be able (and willing) to meet.

How are you? – I will admit that I am most guilty of this one (and can definitely always use this reminder.) When I lived in Denmark a few years ago, one of the first things someone said to me was:

“You’re American,” (honestly I wasn’t sure why he was reminding me since I already felt like a fish out of water but he continued), “and you often ask, ‘how are you’ but walk away before someone answers. You can’t do that in Denmark. If you ask a question, wait to hear the answer. People here will answer your question.”

It dawned on me. What I considered a casual greeting isn’t a greeting at all – it’s a question and walking away before someone answers is rude. Now, I’m not suggesting you stop asking “how are you” but rather ask it when you actually have the time to stop and listen.

So yes, speed is important, but equally important is knowing when there is a need for speed, when you can slow down and the difference between the two. And who knows, by slowing down and listening, you might just learn something new…

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4 thoughts on “Warning: You Might Be Moving Too Fast

  1. Elisa,

    Way to hit the nail on the head with this post.

    I recently put 6 CDs in my car stereo and it is the best thing to happen to my commute in years. I didn’t realize this was a part of my life that needed to “slow down”.

    My car’s CD player stopped getting used years ago when a smart phone or mp3 player took up residence next to my driver’s seat. With hundreds or thousands of songs at my fingertips, I was constantly flipping through the track list or anticipating the next choice I would have to make.

    Having access to a nearly infinite pool of information, be it music or any other type of media, is transforming the world as we know it and it’s just a few clicks away – at all times. It’s so easy to hit up your favorite search engine for the perfect answer or to flip through hundreds of artists on your MP3 player to find the perfect song.

    The problem for me, that I didn’t realize was a problem until I left the MP3 player at home, is that the infinite choice machine with all its possibilities can be pretty stressful over time. It also has a way of eating away at my productivity like Pac Man eats pellets.

    Limiting the number of songs at my fingertips is one place where I have been able to take back my brain, take a deep breath and – slow down – at least until I get to the office.

    Best, – S

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Steve! It’s funny you say that — I recently found a trapper keeper (does that age me) full of CDs. I’ve been listening in the car and it’s been such a change of pace. I hope you’re enjoying your commute as much as I am!

      Best,

      Elisa

      1. For my part, I noticed this need for speed some while ago and made a conscious choice not to partake if it wasn’t necessary. Hence, I have not embraced the latest technologies (iPhone, iPad, iFruit, i think, therefore i AM) as heartily as some others might have. Yes, the gadgets are interesting, but I have felt that there are just parts of my life that there can be no “app” for, and it’s just as well. For example, my life partner’s sister just died over Easter break. No “app” for that. Flying down on a moment’s notice to be there with her at the funeral. No “app” for that either. Nor should there be. A USA Today article recently talked about how much connectivity we have, but how we’re less connected than ever. A curious irony, isn’t it?
        These devices were designed for people “on the go”. Now we’re all expected to be “on the go”, and it’s only creating more stuff to wade through. Quickly, I might add. It’s like information quicksand. But to my knowledge, no one’s ever waded through quicksand quickly. Maybe someone will tell us what that’s like. Assuming that someone ever pull off such a feat.
        I loved that statement about how people are in Denmark. Taking time to listen.
        No “app” for that either.

  2. Ken,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and connecting! I’m sorry to hear about your life partner’s sister.

    I love the picture you paint by describing “information quicksand,” which of course has brought up other questions for me — for example, are we rushing through our every day trying to find answers due to info overload without stopping to think? Have we become more reactive than pro-active as a result of information quicksand? How much of that is due to technology? So many questions and great fodder for future blog posts…

    In the meantime, I will continue wading thru information slowly.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts,

    Elisa

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