Slow Is Smooth, Smooth Is Fast

There is a saying in the military, “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. In the military context it can be used in urban combat when a team rushes into a location and gets outflanked by the enemy instead of taking their time and doing a thorough check. For snipers, it can mean slowing down to take a shot because you might only have time for one. In a leadership role, when you slow down and think about decisions you make, you tend to make the right ones which can save you time and energy in the future. Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden says,

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you make time to do it over."

We have all been there. In the heat of the moment. You need to make a decision that affects the entire course of events in the future. In 1984, Steve Jobs was told by the board of directors not to run a Super Bowl ad that played off the book 1984 and to sell the ad space to someone else. He had a crucial decision to make. He slowed down and took a couple days to make it. In the end, he chose to conveniently not tell the board that they had found a buyer for the ad space and ran it anyway. That ad is considered one of the most famous Super Bowl commercials of all time.

What decisions do you need to slow down on?

Often, as a leader, you might feel you need to be concise and precise. These are not bad qualities. They are dangerous though when you rush decisions in order to get to concise and precise.

Some things to consider when making tough decisions:

  • You might feel rushed, but there is no harm in asking for time to make a decision.

  • Ask the question, “When do you need an answer by?”.

  • Have a timeout rule. (ex. Decisions that effect more than three people or $3,000 get 24 hours)

  • Run it by someone you trust.

  • Use a simple T chart to write out the positives and negatives.

  • Think in days, weeks, and years. How will this work in 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 years?

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