Even working slowly gets things done. Sometimes, I’m unable to work at the pace that meets my standards. Like right now. I’m developing the content for an upcoming interview by a radio show host. The taping is in 2 days, for an early February broadcast.
I’m working very, very, very slowly. Did I mention the going was slow? My inner perfectionist (IP) has a high bar for how quickly I should draft this content, and I am big time failing to meet that standard. My IP wants me to quit working on it, do something else, and return to this work when I can work at a pace that meets her majesty’s quality control standards.
But I have tried a few iterations of that strategy and I’m running out of time. I now risk not being ready for the interview, which would be a foolish waste of an excellent opportunity for increased professional visibility.
So, faced with a choice between working slowly or not working on it all, I’m choosing to work on it slowly. I’m overriding my IP’s great discomfort with the terrible imperfection of the situation. She’s saying, “Hey listen, at this pace, you could be working on it from now until the interview starts in 48 hours: that’s not just unacceptable, but ludicrous.
To which I’m responding, “Look, I can’t DEPEND on being able to crank up my production speed between now and then. So, better to work on it slowly and get it done than wait for efficiency to show up and risk not getting it done at all.”
Here’s a remarkable secret. Moving forward one micron at a time still moves you forward. It is far, far better to be in action than to be paralyzed. Here it is in mathematical terms (I have license to do this because my daughter was an applied math major (magna cum laude, Columbia)): the distance between paralysis and motion is FAR GREATER than the distance between slow motion and fast motion.
That said, there are also times when you just need a break. You can sometimes return from a real break with your batteries re-charged or a mental course correction, and then you just plow forward with much greater effectiveness. Only you can make the call, of course, whether to take a break or continue slogging through.
I’m calling this one: better to move slowly than not at all. I know from past experience that a slow start can pick up momentum and energy, and at some point you cross some threshhold and you’re in flow. But even if that doesn’t happen, left-right-left-right slog slog slog does get things done.
I also know that sometimes only C+ work energy is available, and sometimes C+ results are better than an incomplete. I might not graduate magna cum laude, but I still want my degree.
One of the most powerful things I have been learning in the last 30 years is that the more I am able to tolerate (or risk) the C-pluses, the more rich and full and satisfying my life is. How completely bizarre and unexpected!