“The more the better” is how I used to perceive the world around me. Trying more fancy restaurants, visiting more popular places, watching more award winning films seems the right thing to do. Otherwise we’re missing out. We need to hurry up because we only live once.
It rings true until you scrutinize it a bit more. We all know that in order to get promoted in our jobs, we need to get more stuff done. More than the scope of what’s listed on the job description although paid back by the same income. If everything goes well, we’ll be rewarded with more responsibilities so that we can … do more good work.
Once we cultivated the more mentality, we start to eat more, spend more and entertain more. We become cogs of giant non-stoppable machines running on full speed until worn out. We’re locked into our incessant desires, along with unwanted obligations.
I felt the pain of it. I used to feel rushed without being able to tell exactly why. I want to be fast but I end up being slow. I had a lot of motion but barely any progress.
Kids can’t run without learning to walk. Mastery in any discipline can’t be obtained without honing the fundamentals. The answer to our busyness and delusional productivity is to slow down. Think slowly and think again what’s really important to you.
Morgan Housel shared an interesting story in his article about how professional athletes and amateurs do their training.
The intuition of amateur athletes is to push as hard as they can, testing the limits of their potential, maximizing what they’re capable of…While the professional Olympic cross country skiers training schedule broke out like this:
- 88.7% of training hours were light intensity.
- 6.4% were medium intensity.
- 4.8% were high intensity.The huge majority of the time was spent barely pushing themselves, almost cruising along at a leisurely pace.
Quite counterintuitive, isn’t it? As someone who has done some similar training myself, I can confirm the story is true. You don’t need to be professional athletes to reap the benefits of training strategically. As long as you set a goal for running, say a marathon, you’ll see the best training plan is training by intervals. That’s for most of days, you run leisurely with your 5-6 effort (scale of 10). And occasionally, you go out of your comfort zone by doing a tempo run that requires a 8-9 effort. And the result is way better than you try to push yourself hard to limit everyday. You stay motivated and you even become faster with a stronger muscle base instead of getting injured or burned out.
You’ll need rhythm to keep it going. It’s the balance between stress and recovery. The example is everywhere, students who get the best grades aren’t the ones who put the most effort, employees who delivered the best results aren’t the ones who worked the hardest. Fast helps you get things done, slow helps you choose the right thing to do.
Less is more, slow is fast.