Why applying the brake helps accelerate your career

Why applying the brake helps you accelerate your career

I did something really weird in Melbourne last week. It’s a bit embarrassing. You see – I turned left. And by doing so, I was reminded of the biggest mistake I continue to make in my life and career. Do you make it too? If ‘yes,’ then STOP! And turn left, like me.

The day started early. Emails and calls, even while walking to the six hour intense training session for 30 of our STW Group up-and-comers that I then led. As soon as the session finished, it was back to urgent emails and phone messages, and a quick sit down at a sidewalk café to make one particularly challenging call. It was now 4 pm, and I knew I could get back to my hotel with a fast walk in time to get in two more hours of ‘to do’ list before a dinner engagement. I started walking. And then it happened.

I turned left.

Instead of crossing the bridge to the city and my hotel, I turned left into the Victorian Art Gallery. Not sure why. Just did. Moments later I was in stillness, looking at Picasso, Pissarro, Turner, and the Orientalists. Then I spent half an hour in the book shop there, bought some pencils and cards, and a book on line drawing. I turned left for an hour, but it’s impact was profound. Here’s why.

Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.

John Eales told me that. And he’s right. One hour spent turning left gave me clarity and inspiration.

My mind settled, the daily dust on my soul was literally washed away. I was transported for a few moments to another world, of focus and presence, of ideas and courage, of ‘pirates’ and trail blazers. It reminded me – for a few moments – about the ‘bigger picture,’ about the richness and vibrancy of the world, and the opportunities in it for me and mine. It reminded me that the angst of business and daily realities are real, but mainly inconsequential.

Point is, I ended that hour refreshed. My mind was so much clearer, about a myriad of minor decisions and issues. And about some more profound feelings. Can’t explain this well, but I just loved it. The endorphins were flowing – just as if I’d done a 10 km run or eaten a mightily hot curry (the latter more likely in my case, sadly.)

Now, truisms are truisms because they are TRUE!  “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” “Wake up and smell the coffee!”  So here’s another: “Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.”

Yes, absolutely take yourself seriously in your life and career, be a 100 percenter, read the blogs, work to become a thought leader, think about ‘Brand You’, attend the talk, ‘turn up’ when others just can’t be bothered, push yourself to be the very best you can be. The list goes on. But make sure you also do what I don’t do enough of. Make sure you slow down, often. Just for an hour.

By doing so, you’ll be able to more easily speed up along the path you want to go. Doesn’t have to be a week on top of Mount Baldy meditating. Does not need to be an art gallery. You decide the right left turns for you. But do it — often.

How are you going to turn left today, just for an hour?

More reading:

This powerful source of career inspiration is always on tap
Brand you: How would you sum up your life in just 6 words?
This is how you make a start on a more successful life
Three mistakes to avoid in your career


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