The Paradox of Speed: You have to slow down to speed up. | by Sahil Bloom

Sahil Bloom


about 2 months ago

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The Paradox of Speed: You have to slow down to speed up. The benefits of slowing down are extensive: • Restore your energy • Notice things you previously missed • Be more deliberate with actions • Focus on highest leverage opportunities Move slow to move fast.

Interestingly, forced slowdowns are often the only way to learn this lesson: Having a child is a forced slowdown—it makes you see the world differently. COVID-19 lockdowns were a forced slowdown event—they caused people to re-evaluate personal and professional priorities.

I think about this a lot when I’m carrying my son around the house. He stops and observes simple things—like a plant—for an uncomfortably long time. Forced to do it alongside him, I realize I’m noticing new and beautiful things about everyday objects I previously ignored.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ― Ferris Bueller When life moves fast, it’s easy to get caught in that pace and move fast right along with it. But you’ll earn the outsized rewards by learning to move slow.

I suspect this is the reason the highest performers swear by daily meditation and breath work as part of their routine. When you can control your breathing and slow down in a high stress, fast environment, you can literally accomplish anything.

I’ve been thinking about the Paradox of Speed a lot as I wrestle with an upcoming newsletter piece on the topic. Sign up below to join 126,000+ others who will get it when it’s released.

I was reminded of a great chapter of @oliverburkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks in which he attempts to stare at a single painting for 3 hours. The intense struggle to do so is a reminder of how wired we are for speed/movement. I think I’m going to try it and document the exercise.

The Navy SEALs have an expression on the topic: “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast" Simple and beautiful. You may want to create movement and respond quickly, but always ask: • What would happen if I pressed pause? • What would I do if time weren’t a constraint?

Regular slowdowns are also critical to avoiding burnout. Reframe the slowdown as a core part of your daily systems, not a reward for your efforts. You don’t need to “earn” this slowness and recovery—it is an essential part of your ritual that allows you to move fast and thrive.

This is one of the greatest challenges for highly ambitious people.

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