Are you moving at the speed of sloth?

Every day brings dozens of choices, both personal and professional. Many of them are made unconsciously; sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s not.

When you’re trying to create something special in your life, you’re going to get much better results in the long run when you make conscious decisions about the pace of the journey from here to there.

Too often we think “slow and steady” is boring; we’d prefer to model ourselves on the cheetah rather than the tortoise. Preferences are one thing; insistence on always moving quickly is another. Because sometimes “fast” is a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

So let’s think about the best way to take advantage of a variety of animal rôle models who are experts at their own ways of getting around.

Inching along

The tree sloth is the slowest-moving mammal in the world. Not exactly sexy.

But the sloth gets done exactly what it needs to, and it does so very effectively and safely. After all, would you try to hurry if you were hanging upside down 40 feet above the ground?

The fact is, sometimes moving at the speed is sloth is exactly what the situation calls for. Give yourself permission to be smart enough to start small and slow when learning something new – especially if the consequences of a potential screw-up are huge. Just also be smart enough to know when “not taking serious action because I’m scared to move out of my comfort zone” is masquerading as “prudently slow.”

Trotting

Based on all the horse stories I read as a kid, a trot is the proper gait to use when you want to make significant progress without exhausting yourself.

This is a good choice when you’re operating in your zone of competence and want to cover some serious ground. You’re experienced enough to move briskly and effectively to apply what you know and get the results you’re looking for. At the same time, you’re not moving so fast you can’t keep your eyes open for unexpected pitfalls you may not have encountered before.

Soaring

This is a lovely mode of transportation. You’re performing not just competently, but exceptionally. You’ve paid your earlier, slower-moving dues and are reaping the rewards. You move through your activities easily and know how to take advantage of labor-saving tools and processes (the “air currents”).

This high level of performance is not just gratifying in itself. It also opens your eyes to how much more there is to play with. That’s great news, because it gives you all kinds of ideas about creating more and more fabulous experiences and outcomes.

And, since you’ll be a novice when tackling those new areas, be prepared to shift back to sloth mode as you learn.


The bottom line is this: Acknowledge that inching along, trotting, and soaring are all excellent ways of getting to a goal; there’s a proper time to use each as you advance toward where you want to be; and there’s satisfaction to be found in every bit of progress you make, no matter at what pace you’re traveling. So enjoy!

(BTW, thanks to Stan Lupo, bambe1964, and DenSmith for posting the sloth, horse, and eagle images, respectively, in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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