Slow is Fast

We had a saying in the SEAL Teams and I believe that it was stolen from somewhere.  Like all great sayings, it's one of those that you remember for the rest of your life.  I remember that we were on the range (where you shoot), and we were learning drawing out of a pistol holster and firing instinctively at metal targets that were freshly painted.  The sound of a bullet hitting metal and the sight of the bullet hitting the paint instantly reinforces your neuromuscular system into adjusting your aim and body position for the next shot.  But, I digress.

The saying that the instructor gave us when he noticed that many of us were rushing the shot was, "Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast so...Slow is Fast!"  It's one of those sayings that doesn't really make sense because it's a saying of opposites.  However, after many years of practice, I can honestly say that Slow is Fast really does work.

Whenever we learn something new, especially a complicated movement that requires both mental and physical capabilities, we learn better by slowing down the movement into digestible chunks.  We often practice the movement slowly and methodically, thinking about every nuance of the movement.  We do this over and over again until the movement becomes "natural" and we say that we have developed "muscle memory".  This is the the flux capacitor of training (Back to the Future Reference) and the basis for learning just about anything.  If you rush things at the beginning, you will most certainly mess things up or worse, learn the movement incorrectly.  

How many times do we rush new things and mess things up, only to have to go back to the beginning and relearn things and try again?  Slow if Fast.  Begin by analyzing what it is that you are going to do.  Then learn the individual steps and rehearse these steps individually.  Learn from your errors and adjust your methodology until you get it right.  Only after countless practices can you begin to master the movement.  Slow if Fast.

But does the saying only apply to physical movements?  I don't think so.  Sometimes slow if fast applies to our everyday lives.  Perhaps slowing down to spend time with your relationships speeds up your connection to them?  Go through things too quickly and they don't "soak in" to your brain and you can't truly remember what you did.  After Action reviews help to review what you did, but that is the topic of another day.  For now, let's stick to Slow if Fast.

Your assignment for this week is to take something that you are learning for the first time and apply the Slow is Fast methodology to it.  Break the movement down into steps.  Repeat each step individually slowly and think about what you are doing as precisely as you can.  Once you have mastered the movement, go to full speed and see how you feel.  Take the time to approach everything with a more methodical, Slow if Fast approach.  What kinds of relationships do you have?  Relationships that are fleeting because you don't take the time to slow down with them?  Or are they meaningful and long lasting.  How many things can you apply the Slow is Fast concept to?  Remember that in the end, you will not be remembered for what you did.  You will be remembered for how you made others feel in your presence.  Slow is Fast.

Dr. N

For an active discussion of Slow is Fast, click here.