Can we save time by slowing down?
Updated: May 21
This post is part of a series of blog posts where I consider each component of the Thinking Environment individually, in order to better understand the relationship between the Thinking Environment and psychological safety. In this post, I focus on the component of Ease.
Ease: Discarding internal urgency
What happens to you when you are put under pressure to answer a question that you weren’t prepared for?
Some people seem to love it. Having “the gift of the gab” is what my Nanny used to call it. The ability to blag, think on your feet, and come up with an answer. And a convincing one at that. Often, we seem to find those people in sales roles. Perhaps the natural entrepreneurs who have risen to lead their businesses.
In many ways I’m super jealous of those people. And I am definitely not one of them.
Put me on the spot, especially under pressure, and I struggle. My heart starts to beat faster, my face gets hot, a knot appears in my stomach and my shoulders start to rise. And that’s adrenaline. The hormone which rises in us when we feel threatened or unsafe. The hormone that drives our fight, flight or freeze response.
Our bodies are wired to keep us physically safe from threat for the next 10 seconds. Super useful if the threat is a sabre-toothed tiger and we need to run like hell. But in todays’ world, how often is there a sabre tooth lurking?
The threats we face today are more likely to be a demanding boss or teammate, perhaps a problem that we think might be beyond us, or perhaps that call from our kids’ school….
But our brains respond in the same way. Our Amygdala perceives threat and kicks in. Adrenaline rises, readying us to fly fight or freeze our way out of danger. And this response can cloud our thinking, reduce clarity. Cause the fighters to fight, and the rest of us to want to run away or feel like a rabbit frozen in headlights.
Regularly through my career, I have found myself in situations that have triggered this response in me. And I am certain I have triggered that response in others.
How can I possibly afford to slow down? I don’t have enough time as it is!
So how do we stop? How instead can we create the safety that comes from a sense of Ease in our meetings, and in all our interactions? A freedom from urgency, pressure, and rush when we are thinking together. How in turn, does that make our teams feel safer, more trusting, and ultimately, better able to think independently and collaborate at their very best?
And how can we possibly afford to make the time for all of that, when our diaries are under so much pressure already?
My learning about ease, and experience of the Thinking Environment have given me a different perspective. That creating the ease for others to think clearly in our presence, uninterrupted, saves a huge amount of time.
Give that person, or that team, one single challenging question to really consider deeply, and watch them achieve far more in less time than a tightly packed agenda ever could?
And more than that, I have seen that by demonstrating ease in my own demeanour, it can stop the feeling of pressure that causes adrenaline to rise in myself and others. And instead, everyone feels safe and calm.
And from that safe, calm, easeful place, once again, the genius begins to emerge. The sparks of ideas fly. Clarity emerges, and you find that you’ve got to the root of the problem that you’ve struggled to fix for months.
And then, with the real issue uncovered, the answers that you get surpass everyone’s expectations.
Can adopting an intention to remain easeful really achieve all of that?
Well, Einstein famously said:
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
No rush there then! Create ease, create safety to deeply think, and the genius follows.
Einstein said so, and he was pretty smart!
Click below for links to other blogs in this series