First crawl, then walk and then run…
It’s all right there in that one silly phrase. The key to doing and accomplishing anything in life follows this commonly stated but, in my experience, rarely followed first principle.
If you’ve spent any time around toddlers it’s pretty clear they’re chomping at the bit to get going in life. First they’re tiny rugrats crawling around, and then before you know it they’ve cruised through the booty-scootch phase right into standing up on their own…and it’s literally all downhill (or down stairs) after that. Ask any parent of toddlers and they’ll say one of their many full-time jobs is keeping their miniature bipedal tyrants from careening down the stairs, or waddling into the street like Clint Eastwood rearing up for a high-noon showdown.
And….we don’t get much better as adults. Most high-achieving people I work with have all had aspirations of sprinting before walking. They’ve achieved and built so much in their lives but have often left a trail of smoking debris in their wake. To the high-achiever, patience isn’t a virtue, it’s one of the levels of Dante’s Inferno.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast
In the elite and special forces of the US military we would say “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” I’ve also heard it put “go slow to go fast.”
You know something’s a tried and true first principle when many people from diverse fields are all saying the same thing but in different ways.
So, why is it so hard to follow? Because crawling isn’t sexy! You won’t find the world champion of crawling on a magazine cover. They don’t have an event for it in the Olympics or any professional sports (unless you count getting home from the pub in Ireland a professional sport). So, another way we could put it is: start frumpy, then get functional and then be sexy.
While this seems like something that may only apply to novices and newbies, I’d argue that most high-achievers and top performers need to tattoo it on their forehead. Success leads to confidence which leads to more success, and with enough triumphs under our belt we begin to believe that we are better than sliced cheese. We’re just too good to fail.
Your tools need to adapt.
I’ve worked with executives and entrepreneurs who thought they could just jump off the couch and start all-out sprinting down hill. They’re always hurt and surprised when they trip, fall and do very unsexy flailing cartwheels the rest of the way down. Their new endeavor or enterprise hits some major obstacles and they don’t know what to do.
Why? Because your tools need to adapt. The same strategies and tactics you used for the past three successful projects might not work in your current one. If you start off at a sprint then there isn’t any time to evaluate if the direction and tempo are ideal, and when we go too fast, it’s difficult to change course when necessary.
How do we develop adaptive tools? By always coming back to first principles. Principles like the one we are discussing here.
This is especially important to remember when we are pushing our edges and going outside our comfort zone, which I hope all of you are doing…because, if not, what’s the damn point?!
So, take a breath and look around. What else is happening around you right now? Slow your pace just a little. Cool your jets. Are your current endeavors in alignment with your curiosity, your passion and your purpose? Are you taking the time to tend to your biological needs? Is the strategy you are using in life and business right now based on solid first principles or are you, as we formers soldiers like to say, OTF…out there flapping?
If you’re a high performer in life and work and are interested in finding and climbing your true peak, click the link here to learn more about my Executive Health and Peak Performance coaching services. We’ll discuss how to optimize your health, energy, focus, clarity, creativity and help you to connect deeply to your passion and your purpose.
Joshua Graner M.S.
Executive Health and Performance Coach
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