There is a saying special forces soldiers live by. It’s (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. Read that again. It sounds weird and counterintuitive at first, but it holds some deep, universal truths. And if it’s good enough for SEALs and Delta Force guys, it’s something we as civilians should embrace as well.
So, what lays behind this philosophy of slowing down to get things done more quickly in the end?
It’s the proven concept that humans make more mistakes when they feel rushed.
Can you think of a time when you were trying to do something quickly? Maybe your client requested an update on a part of a project you didn’t know was important. Or maybe you overslept and are frantically trying to get the childen ready for their doctor’s appointment.
We all encounter these types of scenarios on a regular basis. And what happens? Things go wrong. We delete entire chunks of data instead of copying them. Or we manage to lock ourselves out of the house, with the car keys sitting on the kitchen counter. Then what?
Then we end up spending more time correcting our mistakes. Now imagine what would happen if you made a mistake like that in a life or death situation? What if you had to deal with the added pressure of knowing there was a pretty good chance a sniper rifle was pointed at you right now? Your mistakes would cost lives, possibly a lot of them, including your own.
Is It Time To Embrace the Motto?
That’s why special forces guys can’t afford to rush and why they live by “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. Don’t you think it’s about time you embraced this motto as well?
Before you rush into whatever it is you have to do today, take a moment to draw in a deep breath and slow down. Think about what you’re going to do. What’s the best way to go about it? Do you have the information and tools you need? Could you use an extra pair of hands? Should you be doing this in the first place?
Don’t start to get to work until you’ve considered your options and have come up with a plan. Then, and only then, is it time to get to work.
Will you do everything right when you slow down? Of course not. We are all human and we make mistakes. There’s no way to avoid making them completely. But what I can tell you is that you’ll make fewer of them.
That’s the goal, to make fewer mistakes so we don’t have to backtrack or start over, losing precious time, energy, and resources in the process. If you ask me, that’s something worth doing.