Name one valuable commodity of which both you and Bill Gates have the same amount. Or Warren Buffett. Or Carlos Slim.
That answer, my friends, is time.
Each of you has 86,400 seconds in a 24-hour period, and depending on habits, you spend anywhere from 21,600 to 28,800 of those precious seconds unconscious.
We live in a time-strapped world.
Think of a moment where you admired someone for the way in which they ran around the office like a chicken with their head cut off trying to get work done.
No one admires that. It’s wasted energy.
Unfortunately, we live in an always-on culture where we feel that we have to display our hurriedness. Otherwise, it might look like we’re not working hard enough.
You’d be mistaken if you were to think that this blog post is about how to be more efficient — how to squeeze every last valuable moment from life in order to be more productive.
On the contrary, I wish to make the case for moving more slowly.
If you are ever lucky enough to have a meeting with Mr. Gates, Mr. Slim or Mr. Buffett, you’re bound to end up waiting for them. Why? Because they’re more important than you.
When was the last time you went to your doctor’s office to find the doc waiting for you? Never. That’s because her value as a medical professional — someone who can objectively assess your health and write prescriptions — trumps your own. But your doctor still has to sit in in the waiting room and flip through magazines when she visits her accountant.
Now, imagine you could use time to convey this sense of high value with your peers in everything you do at work.
I’m not saying to show up late for meetings or make people wait for you. That would be rude and would show a lack of time management.
I am merely telling you to move slowly. As it stands now, with all our phone-checking and running around at work, our lizard brain emerges — it’s that fight or flight response that allows us to respond when an enemy attacks. As a foot soldier in a tribe or a delta in the gorilla pack, flighty behaviour is rewarded on the front lines since it could result in survival.
Meanwhile, well protected, the alpha is busy strategizing, planning her next steps to increase or maintain power.
With the limbic system stimulated to fight or flee, one cannot strategize. Invoking fear is a fantastic method for quashing critical thinking.
As I laid out with my power posing post, behaviour can inform brain chemistry. Just as standing tall and confident will release testosterone, moving slowly will let you think more clearly.
Here are the top tips to use in a work environment to bring down your blood pressure, allow yourself to think and give off a more confident vibe:
1. Walk more slowly, everywhere you go. The destination of life is death. Enjoy the journey.
2. Never interrupt. Since what you say is so valuable, you are not so insecure as to believe you must interrupt someone to get your point across.
3. Wait two seconds before responding to a question. A fight-or-flight state is very selfish. You are concerned merely with your own self-preservation (being fired!). By taking the time to really listen to someone before answering them, your words become something not to be taken lightly.
4. Be still. As with my post on power poses, you need to sit still and not fidget or self soothe, no matter how small the movements.
As an easy rule, pretend you’re moving in slow motion. When you speak slowly, your voice becomes more relaxed. If you are a male, this means it will deepen. You will use the words “um” and “ah” less when you have time to think about what you want to say.
Naturally, there will be moments when swift movement is called for. Don’t ignore these. The important thing to remember is that slow-mo should be your default state from now on.
You now have the tools for a subtle behaviour nudge that will help you feel more confident and to better showcase your value — maybe even make you feel like a billionaire.