To go faster, slow down - Business Works
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To go faster, slow down

Paul Hannam, Fast Growth Club If you want to achieve fast growth for your business in this complex, ever-changing and chaotic economy, you need to slow down first. Now this may seem paradoxical, even contradictory, yet the act of slowing down to speed up is at the heart of both business and personal growth. When you slow down you become more aware and Mindful. If you are not mindful you are largely working on automatic pilot and acting on habits. According to recent research from Duke University, 40% of our actions are habitual and, if you want to change your habits, you need to be mindful of them first.

When we are locked in to routines and habitual behaviours we can seem to be working hard. When the world speeds up you tend to speed up too. Does it feel that you are increasingly doing more and more in less time? The challenge is that our habits are often out of synch with the quality of work we need to be doing. What worked last year is no longer so effective and the changing business realities dictate that we have to change the way we do our work.

The demands for greater productivity and multitasking are speeding up everything and you can be too busy to be conscious of the world about you. It can even feel that you are largely living and working in a type of trance. I know of many people and many organizations that function this way. They are preoccupied with increasing the quantity of what they do at the expense of the quality.

I know of executives who sleep-walk through their days, under the illusion that they are improving their performance by doing more—when in fact they are achieving the opposite. Lost in the details of their mindless daily routine, they miss the big picture; they have no vision to inspire and lead their people. Only self-awareness can lead to genuine personal and organizational change.

It is only when you slow down that you can really see what is happening and be in the right state for learning new skills, habits and behaviours. When you are mindful you are more aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Then you pay attention on purpose. In business, this means choosing where to place your attention from moment to moment so that you are more focused. Being mindful is much more than not being distracted. When you are mindful, you are more self-aware and more aware of others too. You are clearer about what is important and make better decisions.

An increasing number of businesspeople are discovering that mindfulness offers them extraordinary benefits. Google and Apple are just two of the growing number of corporations who are offering Mindfulness training to their employees.

This one practice offers an amazing number of benefits. It makes you more productive, optimistic, resilient and happier at work. It also increases your creativity and flexibility, enhances learning, reduces stress and makes you better at managing relationships.

I first discovered Mindfulness when I was teaching a course on Organisational Behaviour at Oxford University and was interested in the personal skills, beliefs and habits needed to succeed in organisations. In particular, I was interested in how effective executives manage their moods and stay calm while others suffer from stress, anxiety and low energy.

As I researched and then practised Mindfulness, I realised that it is the core state for high performance. When you are mindful, you are aware and present and this means that you are better at focusing, at listening and making rational decisions. Everything you do in business is based on these types of cognitive and emotional building blocks.

So I recommend that you consider how you are going to train your mind. Just as sporting excellence is built on the foundations of fitness, speed, strength and coordination so management excellence is built on the foundations of focus, resilience, optimism, self-discipline and effective thinking. Sportspeople need to train to get fitter and stronger to improve their performance and so should business people consider training their minds to improve their performance too.

When you train your mind to be mindful you will notice a profound difference. When you slow down, you can feel your stress dissolve as you go with the flow. As you become more relaxed, you realize how tense and tight you were before. You had become habituated to your restlessness as though it was your normal state.

Now you can see things more clearly, access your intuition and make better decisions. In this way, slowing down will lead to improved performance and faster growth for your business - and you do not need to train in a Zen Monastery for 10 years to achieve it or to appreciate the paradox!

Paul Hannam
Mindfulness is one of the skills Paul teaches at his clubs for entrepreneurs and executives. If you would like to know more about the Fast Growth Club please visit his website:

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