At ELP, we work with The Ten Commandments of Dialogue. The fourth is is about slowing down. Time and attention are key words for dialogue. Those are difficult words in the 21st century in which speed is everything. The modern consumer wants everything instantly, hunted by Whatsapp and Facebook in which a response time of ten minutes is considered too long. Slowing down and reflection don’t fit well in that pattern.
As all of society, maybe even more, organizations are governed by speed. We expect leaders to make their decisions quickly. We cannot wait. Calendars are filled to the brim with meetings and bilaterals. Smartphones constantly beep for attention.
Temporarily stopping the noise of the activities in yourself will silence your mind. At that moment, something beyond thought might come into operation. The bandwidth of our receiver becomes wider, which enables us to receive signals that were too weak to hear before. Filters and barriers decrease their power. As physicist David Bohm said, “the body is the individual gateway to a remarkable wealth of unexpected information”. We become more open.
Slowing down is the countervailing power against all the rush. Everybody needs to take time to reflect and think about what really matters. There is a paradox: the busier you are, the less time you take to stop and reflect. But every lumberjack knows that he sometimes must step back from chopping the wood to sharpen his axe. That is what leaders should do to keep their energy and ideas flowing. Slowing down helps to speed up afterwards and build a virtuous cycle of action and reflection.