A Certain Slowness

It’s easy to feel frustrated in complex organizations. An under appreciated aspect of complexity is that patterns emerge with “a certain slowness.”  

You sometimes just have to wait to recognize an opportunity that is emerging. 

Like a surfer who is waiting for a rising wave or a seabird waiting for the ocean breeze, a leader who acts too quickly can miss the best ride of the day.

The late South African philosopher Paul Cilliers talked about this need to pay close attention to timing, the need to patiently observe and wait as events unfold, to visualize what is coming and to anticipate when the right moment will come.

Only then does the master act, surely and precisely.

Cilliers described this experience as “a certain slowness” in the way complex events resolve into patterns that enable understanding. This is why an effective leader is often described as calm in the midst of a storm, as a rock standing firm against the crashing waves. These leaders are watching for the exact moment when the true challenge fully reveals itself. They are waiting for the right moment to act.

Note the irony here: in turbulent and complex situations when things are happening fast, the best choice may be to slow down, to watch and to wait. The right moment will come.  Acting too quickly can blur the emerging picture. By acting at the wrong moment, the true nature of the opportunity may be lost.

The key, is to be ready at the right instant, that singular moment when what is happening becomes clear, and what must be done reveals itself.

Act boldly, just the right way, and just at the right moment, and you will have the wind at your back. Raise you wings and get ready to soar!

Learn more about taking it slow from this TED Talk:

Jim Hazy

Founder and CEO, Leadership Science, LLC

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