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The Modern Paradox: Slow Down to Speed Up in a Stressed Out World

The Modern Paradox: Slow Down to Speed Up in a Stressed Out World

May 18, 2013

It’s happening. We feel it. Everything is speeding up.

A hacker posted a fake tweet on Associated Press announcing an explosion at the White House, and an injured President Obama. News spread like wildfire across the stock market, just one week after the Boston Marathon bombing. In seconds, $130 billion in stock value evaporated as the S&P 500 plummeted 0.09 percent, tells the Financial Times.

Here’s the deal. Everything is moving faster. The question is how will you respond. Here are two proven strategies:

  1. Speed up for your customers
  2. Slow down for yourself

Below, I’ll explain exactly how to ride the wave and make more money from America’s need for speed. At the same time how to resist the cultural pull that is trying to force you into a tizzy.

In 2010 there was an infamous market flash crash. The real-time formation of flash mobs.  Handy-dandy flash drives. We’re all in a hurry.

FedEx next morning.  One-hour cleaners. Drive-by downloads. Five-minute artisan bread. Forget email. Already too slow. Text me! We even walk 10 percent faster than just a decade ago. You can cover 60 feet in 12.5 seconds today*

And now there’s science to verify TIME is speeding up.  Yup.


On top of this, what about all the "liberating" technology devices we're chained to in this always-on, always-connected world. I'm not teaching how to deliver "IGNITE" seminars that are only FIVE MINUTES with slides that auto-advance without you. Because that's what conference attendees love. We like speed dating, now we want speed seminars.

We’re a stressed out, on edge, wound tight, hyped up nation of weary people. But there’s a way out, and I’m going to share it with you in seconds.

Here’s the Problem

You need to please your customers.  But at what price?  What happens when a customer flashes the sword of speed in your face?   Do you jump?   Hide? Remember, they’re stressed out, too.  Except he needs the report by tomorrow morning.  She wants her car back by 3 p.m. 

Speed Makes You Sick

Living under your own time pressures causes psychological and physical illness. Pile that on top of your customer’s demand for real-time response and you could face a health crisis. Psychotherapist Linda Buzzel explains that time poverty is now a recognized psychological and social stressor.

Stress kills. Your body. Your spirit. Your joy. What’s your definition of stress?

Here’s mine

“Stress is when demand exceeds capacity”.

When you have more to do then time allotted. When your bills exceed your cash. When you have multiple things to do that all need to be done today but you can’t possibly get it all done by the end of the day. This is my definition of stress and it has gripped most of our clients.

In fact, one out of every five people you meet in America reported feeling "extreme" stress in 2012, according to the American Psychological Association. The more you check your Smartphone, the more stressed you become, claims U.S. News & World Report.

There are two rules to dealing with speed -

Rule #1: Speed up for the customer.

Make it easier for your customer by offering an expedited service.

What is confusing to most entrepreneurs is they think they should be working faster. But the truth is they should simply be offering a speedier option for their customer.

“It’s simple to make things that are complicated.

But it’s complicated to make it simple.”

–Ancient Irish Wisdom

Many of the most profitable businesses have learned to simplify and “speedify” the customers’ experience.

Here’s some really smart examples where I’ve seen speed-up service work add to profits.

  • Disney upsells the (pricey) speed pass so guests can avoid long lines
  • Enjoy faster early bird check in on Southwest Airlines for only $10
  • Bing upsells at Baltimore Intl. Airport with faster connection speed
  • Businesses from insurance to printing offer instant online quotes
  • One hour cleaners (it’s a loss leader, most don’t use it)
  • Shell gasoline offers a “fast pass” so you don’t even have to use your credit card.

Now imagine what your business could offer to simplify the lives of your customers and speed up service to their business:

  • Create a concierge service to expedite installations
  • Ask for 10-minute meetings instead of one-hour
  • Offer an online needs analysis questionnaire to allow prospects to self-qualify faster

Rule #2: Slow down 5% to manage yourself and your organization.

Fast Relief:    S-L-O-W DOWN

Don’t become a victim of time in service to your customers. You can give them what they want. You can sell the speed without losing yourself inside the vortex.

Slow down to speed up. Literally slow yourself down so that you can create and offer techniques that speed up service to customers. Because smart business owners need time to think, create, plan, evaluate, and replenish.

Slow down to speed up is a simple concept though hard to put into practice, especially for Type A entrepreneurs. Here’s how you can do. Take the simple 80-20 test.

Urgent vs. Important

The late, great Stephen Covey, 7 Habits® author and business thought leader, urged us to make the distinction between urgent and important. When everything is urgent, what’s important? Common knowledge tells us that 80 percent of business leaders find themselves tied up in the knots of urgency. But the most effective leaders devote 80 percent of their time to working on Important Not Urgent.

Quick: Take a look at how you spend your time. If you spend the majority of it doing things that Urgent & Important, then you are fooling yourself! You will burn out and not grow your company and will never get free. 

How do you define what’s important?

Higher margins.  Employee training.  Customer retention. Cost control. Whatever it may be for you, you need to slow down to determine its nature and impact. Do this by simplifying what you do on a personal level. Objectively know how you spend your time each day.

To see what's really working, keep a log, look for patterns, note interruptions, analyze what worked and didn’t work. Begin to thoughtfully account for your time. Then codify an improved approach into a teachable process. Train others to do what you do. That’ll free you up to focus on the important and stop reacting to the urgent. It is in this focusing that real, long-term breakthroughs occur. Let me share an example.

Look who's sucked into the vortex...

This week I spoke to a client with around 60 employees on his payroll. He admitted to doing “sneak attacks” on his employees to check up on their performance. He got sucked into “important and urgent” but totally neglected all the things that are “Important but Not Urgent”.  When he accepted my advice to step back and think critically about what he was doing, he began to realize he wasn’t leading his company.

In reality, my client was spinning in the infinite speed vortex, missing the important issues, even though he felt good about all his busyness. Once he slowed down, he was able to go back to working on developing his MVPs (Mission Values Purpos), and building freedom teams with carrots instead of whips.

How can you slow down to speed up?

Track your time for two weeks. See how much time you spend in Important Not Urgent. If it’s less than 80 percent, please reread this article. Retool your time. If not, you could still be spinning three weeks, three months or three years from now.

Bottom line:

  1. Ask your self “How do we speed up for our customers?”
  2. How do I slow down to work on things which are important but not urgent.

If you need help contact us to learn how to slow down to speed up to make more profits and have a more meaningful life.