By Jane Bruce, #RideTheWave Coach
I’ve never been one to rush. In fact I’d go so far as to say that I actively hate rushing.
I have a solid reputation in my household as the last to get up and the slowest to get ready - more a case of ‘get up slow’ than ‘get up and go’.
And yet my professional reputation as a leader, is that of someone who gets stuff done quickly.
I never feel like I’m moving at pace so this contradiction has always puzzled me a bit.
Now, training as a coach with #RideTheWave, I’ve had some lightbulb moments as to why not rushing, in fact stillness, is potentially a superpower.
Over the past couple of decades, the pace of life has sped up exponentially. Our brains, bamboozled by social media and the blurring of work/life boundaries, have become used to digesting ever more information, ever more quickly.
With our attention so fractured, it's no wonder that carving out time to be still and to think with one other person feels positively revolutionary.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you sat with another human being and were listened to without hurry or interruption?
As coaches, we hold space for another person to consciously slow down and think. When we get it right, the offering of this slow space feels like a precious gift.
Trapped in constant busyness, people often whirl fear round and around in their brains. Negative thoughts fill the brain like a knotted ball of string, blocking a person’s ability to make progress.
In the presence of stillness, a person can begin to pull tentatively at the threads of their thoughts and examine what’s serving them and what isn’t. With the luxury of time and genuine attention, the knots unravel. All of a sudden, as if by magic, plans emerge and decisions are made with ease.
This is how coaching saves time. An hour invested in stillness and thinking saving weeks, months or even years that might have been spent in rabbit holes or inaction.
The difficult decision made, not sat on. The idea unearthed, now clear to see. Fear dismantled, replaced by resolve.
By the end of a session, relief can be felt even at the distance of Zoom and real progress is named: ‘clearer’, ‘lighter’, ‘peaceful’, ‘determined’.
In my learning so far, I’ve found the most inspiring description of the listening process to be that of Nancy Kline in her seminal book ‘Time to Think’.
At the time of publishing in 1999, Nancy hoped that coaching as a profession wouldn’t be needed for long as its techniques would quickly be integrated into everyday life.
That wish still seems extremely optimistic but perhaps the current pandemic has provided the chink of disruption needed to move us towards embracing greater slowness.
In my most demented of Lockdown moments, I’ve been on Zoom, whilst checking Twitter, Whatsapping my family, and helping my littlest one with his home schooling.
But equally, I’ve also enjoyed some precious slow times that have generated greater clarity and connection in my life. From hanging out on Zoom with old friends, playing board games with my kids and pacing gentle loops of my local paths - there has been less cause to rush.
As we move beyond the current crisis, if you’re looking to embed moments of slow into your own life, coaching provides a brilliant method for counteracting constant but ineffective busyness.
On so many levels, taking time to think makes for a sound investment. As Nancy Kline herself explains - if we slow down, we really will speed up:
“When it comes to thinking, the thing on which everything else depends, ease, that giant unattainable tiny thing, actually generates time we don’t have if we rush.”