Standing Still

[I]n an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than standing still.

Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness

There’s a tendency amongst hard-chargers to feel like we must always have our eyes on the road ahead, on the mission, on the untouched prize out there on the horizon.

It’s almost right.

What’s more accurate is that we must keep our eyes up & toward the future, most of the time.

Some of the time, though, we need to look backward. We have to reflect on what’s happened. We have to hold a mirror up to ourselves & ask the tough questions too easily avoided.

Did I respond as well to what she said as I could have?

What am I not seeing that’s standing in the way of progress?

Am I the kind of leader I want to be?

If we never look backward, we’ll never learn from our mistakes. We’ll never push ourselves to be better. We’ll never close the gap between the moment of stimulus & the moment we identify the optimal response.

We don’t live in a world built for reflection, but one designed for reaction, distraction, & noise.

That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to slow things down. We just have to be intentional, to create the space for it.

Write in a journal for five minutes every morning. Spend the last fifteen minutes of your commute in silence. Drink the first cup of coffee before you look at any of the electronics plugged in & buzzing around you.

Whatever it is, make the space for every day. Preparation, plus action, plus reflection - that’s the math of making progress.

Patrick Cummings