I have always loved the phrase “Don’t just do something stand there.” It conveys the paradox that very often doing things is less productive than taking a moment to reflect. A moment to work out what is really going on. A moment to ponder what we we really want to happen. A moment to gather ourselves before stepping back into the hectic stream of modern life.
This willingness to be still is becoming ever more important. The fad for mindfulness in the geek and startup communities that has emerged over the last few years is a sign that chasing the newest shiny thing and frenetically pursuing the ultimate in productivity eventually takes its toll. We end up “busily bored” as Todd Henry calls it. Never having enough time but constantly wondering what the point is.
I used the phrase “Staying ahead by slowing down” in my talk at Learning Live last week. My theme was that we need to get better at our most human characteristics if we are to add value when AI and robots can run rings around us in terms of efficiency. Rather than efficiency, effectiveness needs to be our main focus, doing the right things for the right reasons. Sometimes sitting quietly in a room on our own, even for a little while, is the best way to work out what those are.