Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Slow is the New Fast


If you happen to have 100 million Euros (about $150 million) to spare, you might be in the market for the yacht, The Why, pictured to the left. Yes, that's the stern of a boat that was featured in the House & Home section of a recent edition of the Financial Times Weekend.

As described in the FT, The Why is a one of a kind yacht with 3,400 meters of guest space and an optimal cruising speed of only 12 knots. (You can see more pictures of The Why at http://www.why-yachts.com .)

I'm taking a wild guess here, but I'm doubting that very many of my readers are in the market for a $150 million boat. (I know I'm not! Not in this lifetime, anyway.)

So what's the point of all this in a leadership blog? It's this excerpt from the FT quoting Pierre-Alexis Dumas, one of the designers of the 12 knot yacht:

Dumas believes that, except in the case of aircraft, "speed as an aesthetic is passé". He questions when we now have time to think. "Time like this is not a luxury, it's a necessity. If we don't think, we alienate ourselves in a dangerous way. Going slow is a natural reaction to the artificial speed of light we created."
Think for just a moment about what Dumas is saying. "If we don't think, we alienate ourselves in a dangerous way." Even if (especially if) you don't have the opportunity to spend your thinking time on a luxury yacht, you still need to slow down a bit and take it.

I've been doing a lot of speaking to audiences of leaders this Fall and one of the things I've been talking a lot about is how, in this world where it seems like everyone is running flat out until they crash, we can find time to slow down and think about what we're really trying to accomplish and how we need to show up to accomplish it. I'm sharing a framework developed by David Kundtz, the author of Stopping: How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going, that goes like this.

Kundtz says that in our lives, we will have the opportunity to take three different kinds of breaks. They are:

Grinding Halts: which are rare periods of extended down time of several months or more. Examples would include a scheduled sabbatical, time between jobs or retirement.

Stopovers: which are extended breaks and "unplugged from the grid" times of a few days or more.

Still Points: which are those cues that come up throughout the day that signal us to take a short break to pause, think, reflect, relax or rest.

I've been asking people lately to identify the still points that come up throughout their day. I've heard some good examples like lunch, commuting time and the little cushion that comes from starting or stopping meetings on the quarter hour rather than the half hour. My favorite example was a fellow at a speech in London who said his still point comes when he makes his afternoon tea and considers whether or not he'd like some cucumber sandwiches with his drink.

So, my question for you today is what are your still points and how are you using them to give yourself a break to just stop and think? My observation lately is that most leaders believe they don't have any margin in their day to stop and that taking a break to pace themselves is pretty much an impossibility. When I ask them to identify their still points and then ask them in the middle of my presentation to stand up, take a few deep breaths and stretch a little bit, they realize they have more control over their think time and stress level than they thought they had.

Give your still points a try. It may not be quite the same as lounging on the sun deck of a $150 million yacht, but I'll bet it will be an improvement over your current routine nonetheless.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.