How to Slow Down and Achieve More

Mar 16, 2017Padraig's Insights

Stop compressing time


Have you ever baked a cake?

There is this notion in the modern world that we can continuously compress time, but it’s an illusion!

When you’re baking a cake, there is in fact an appropriate amount of time to wait before taking it out of the oven.

I’m convinced that a lot of the stress and pressure we feel is caused by the phenomenon of over-achievement and setting unrealistic expectations about what is actually possible in a given amount of time.

So, we set unrealistic targets, we put ourselves under inordinate amounts of pressure to deliver and we may well set our budgets and our cash flow around the delivery of these targets, thus putting even more pressure on ourselves.

When you’re baking a cake you have to accept that it’ll take an hour and a half or however long it takes.

I was talking to a client today about a programme we’re running and the case I was making to her was that the programme is twelve months for a reason.

The purpose of that is to allow the information to sink in and to give people the chance to practice the tools. You can’t speed it up. It’s a fool’s errand to try.

So, think about this notion of baking a cake and think about the deadlines you set for yourself. Assess whether they’re realistic or not.

See if you can readjust some of your timelines to take some of the pressure off.



Get yourself out of the way


Are you the type of person (like me) who tries to control everything? If you are, I’d like to share an insight that I had this morning.

I was out with a client and I came back into the office, where there was a meeting going on. It was unscheduled and the guys were talking about a project we’re launching in May.

One of my colleagues came back then and told me what they were going to do and I thought it was amazing. They had done it with no input from me.

I realised the importance of trusting people and allowing them to get on with things. Pushing things down and forcing people to make decisions is key.

If you do it, you end up with full engagement – people taking ownership and developing something much greater than they could have with you involved.

Getting yourself out of the way and trusting that people know what they’re doing is critical. So, get out of the way!


Less haste more speed


We all know the expression ‘less haste, more speed’​, but what does it actually mean in business?

As we know, time is everything. My old chairman used to tell me that he didn’t want to be number one. He didn’t want to be a pioneer. Instead, he wanted to come in second and snap up an opportunity.

Being too early or too late is a recipe for disaster.

There’s a great book called ‘Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play’​. In it the author makes the case that to speed up you have to slow down. When you’re dealing with any issue, slowing the process down is really important.

Create space to allow things to unfold the way they can unfold. So, when you feel under pressure to make a sale, counterintuitively the best thing to do is step back and slow everything down.

I’ve noticed that slowing down and asking questions builds credibility, confidence and helps the other person to engage. Pushing things doesn’t work.

So remember, ‘less haste, more speed’​!



And finally, enjoy the ride!


I was out for my run this morning. I often have my insights when I’m out running so here’s my insight for the day.

I was going for a long run and it was a mild morning. I started off very slowly and continued on at a slow pace. When I came back after my run I realised that I did my fastest ever time for that route.

The first thing that struck me was that by starting slowly I was able to go faster further down the road. In life there is a huge pressure to accomplish things and do things now – often at the price of building infrastructure and starting properly.

When you do start properly you end up achieving more and getting there faster.

Secondly, when I came in after my run I felt great. If we create enough space and time to do the things we want to do we can accomplish a lot more in a relatively stress free way.

Finally, I enjoyed my run along the beach! Surely that’s the purpose of the journey – to enjoy it! So, enjoy the ride!


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