Macgyver’s most memorable episode was when he was hanging out of car going eighty miles an hour, by his foot, while the communists chased him to the border with guns and army trucks. His task, of course, was to transfer the power steering fluid into the brake cylinder before the car crashed into the fence and killed everybody. Pretty standard day at work for that guy. But even though this scene is exciting and hilarious to watch, it’s also a zen parable for businesses. Because despite our amazing technological prowess and our ability to execute under pressure, in real life, nobody should be going that fast.
DOWNSHIFTING — Creating the necessary whitespace to take a breath and decide what the next right action is
It’s understandable that going fast is key to innovation, but speed is not sustainable as the driving force of the enterprise. But see if your can force yourself to put on the breaks. See if, in world that is only moving faster and faster, you can gain some power by slowing down. Startups are notoriously proud of their willy nilly gunslinger leaders that make haphazard decisions. But let’s not forget about the rest of the team, who is hanging out of the speeding company car by their foot. It might help you create the necessary whitespace to take a breath and decide what the next right action is. Because despite what the rockstars of startup culture tell us, moving fast and breaking things is harder than it looks. Try to move with great velocity when when necessary, but remember that getting shit done at the cost of sound, timely decision making isn’t efficient, it’s immature.
My old marketing director was a woman who clearly had a need for speed. Maverick himself wouldn’t have been able to keep up with her. But while it was invigorating to work with her initially, over time, it became clear that everyone on the team was scared of her. You could hear the sound of their collective sphincters puckering in fear anytime she walked in the room. Do you have a coworker like that? Somebody fond of making breakneck decisions based on instinct rather than rational thought? Maybe you are that person. And if so, you’re not alone. The drift toward speed at all costs is a prevalent blind spot in the business world.
Don’t go too fast and lose appreciation of your company’s broader circumstances. Know when to use your voice, know when to use your silence. Trust that will still be prolific, even if you're not going a hundred miles an hour. What prompts you to go into action too fast?
Reduce burnout and disengagement on creative teams
Build a more satisfied and intrinsically oriented work force
Gain greater appreciation of your company’s broader circumstances
Give your brain room to make sound, timely, efficient and decisions
Build a culture of calm, focused team members who have the mental and emotional space to innovate