Go ahead, take it a little slow.
“Am I going too slow?” Over history, entrepreneurs as a species have danced to this one question more than their favourite country, blues, jazz, rap and rock tunes combined. The over-arching fear: Arriving at the finishing tape after the party is over. In other words, too late.
The reflexive recourse is to check the speed of progress, and label it ‘slow’. So let’s begin there, shall we?
Is a slow rate of growth really the problem? Let’s scratch the surface.
For one thing, there’s a lot less stress in the air when you aren’t out to break speed records – which is an essential pre-requisite for doing anything well. Then, there’s usually less risk of something going spectacularly wrong. Thirdly, you have enough time to nurture and nourish a great culture and a team – which only grows stronger with time. Finally, a clip that is slow in the conventional sense – but consistent, measured and assured – can breed its own unique brand of satisfaction and confidence. All glowing testimonies that root for a balanced, mindful and steady speed of growth.
However, an ever bigger question is, is speed in our hands at all? Do we control it? Given that competition, customer, strategy, teams, investors and even the economy play a vital role in influencing every single step of the growth journey, the answer is, rather clearly, in the negative.
But the biggest question – the one that holds the key, and the one nearly everyone misses – is simply this: What’s the big rush?
Sure – while a 20 percent+ (per annum) rate of growth may be outstanding, and a 7-8 percent (per annum) definitely higher than average – fast and slow is really a relative thing. If stakeholders are calling the shots, you don’t have much of a choice. But when you’re the one behind the wheel, take full advantage of the latitude (make no mistakes, it’s the ultimate luxury) to design, build and grow your dream enterprise on your own, ‘dream terms’.
Remember that your project may come with a deadline. Your business, doesn’t.
Your vision, your passion, is not a matter of labour. It’s a labour of love. No-one asks how quickly the Taj Mahal was built. We salute Mughal-e-Azam not for being the fastest-movie-ever-made : Just one-of-the-greatest. It took Michaelangelo 26 long years to create his masterpiece, David: No one complained.
So the next time you’re battling rush hour, ask yourself: Whose race am I running? And even if I win it, will the trophy really make me smile? Is that my big dream?
It’s time to stop being busy simply because it’s fashionable. Let’s get busy living, instead. Busy-ness is not good business. All it yields is low value, short-lived output. On the other hand, mindful living – one where we are aware and appreciative of each step – yields high value outcomes.
And for that, we need to relax. And take things a little easy.
Yes, in business, timing may everything. But the watch must be wrapped around your wrist, not someone else’s. Success that doesn’t resonate with your soul may create value for the market, but won’t carry much sense to you. It’ll be hollow.
So yes, to address every entrepreneur’s ultimate bugbear, your endeavours should have a speed plan. But it’s you – not you ecosystem – who gets to decide how hard you will press down on the accelerator pedal. Yes, let’s stop letting that clock define our TO-DO lists. Let our hearts do the job, instead. It’s far more qualified for the job anyway.
The dreams that keep us awake at night. The passions that rule our day. The appetites that push us. Let THESE define our journey. And it’s speed.
Let’s now play Devil’s Advocate and look at what can go wrong.
Yes, your worst nightmare may come true : You may arrive at the prize distribution ceremony a couple of hours late. Later than the Joneses, that is.
Guess what that actually means?
You still get the prize (nobody else can – after all, our trophies in life come factory-fitted with our name on them). Only, we are a lot more ready for it. A lot more appreciative of the value it holds.
In an avatar that’s a lot more balanced and mature.
But here’s the icing on the cake. You may be late, but the guys who supposedly ‘beat you on speed’, are now history. The world just isn’t interested in them anymore. Because the world hates stale. Your customers love fresh. Markets revolve around ‘NOW’. And finally, you’re that fresh. You’re that ‘Now’.
Because you are no longer ‘late’, but just in time. To be ‘The Latest’. The ‘In Thing’ the planet craves.
Yes, you are speaking a lingo that’s today, not yesterday. And you are connecting to an audience that’s ‘here now’, not ‘back then’. Not surprisingly, the headlines, the spotlight, is on you. Only on you. Firmly on your sparkle. Unequivocally on your swag.
In the mood to overtake? Take it a little slow.
The ‘first’ will fade into the past, fast. Prepare yourself to be the Latest. Big. Thing.