When Fast is Slow and Slow is Fast

How often is it that when you rush to finish something, the slower your progress seems to get?  There are times, especially when relationships are involved, where when you move slowly, more momentum will build because of how slowly you’re taking things.  This situation can also apply to you as a corporate manager trying to achieve a new target or KPI, or even when talking your teenage children into doing something they aren't particularly interested in.

This picture is the well-known Taoist symbol of "Yin Yang", which represents natural opposites. “Yin” is the black portion which encompasses the power of darkness, cold, mysterious, feminine, and slow.  “Yang”, as its opposite, is the white portion and holds the power of enthusiasm, warmth, brightness, stability, masculinity, and fast.  To complete the symbol, Inside the white portion there is a black spot and vice versa. It’s also interesting to note that the division of the white and black portion is symmetrical, not divided by a straight line, but a curve which indicates smooth integration and flexibility.

Both forces are essential to creating the balance of nature that we see. Just as there is the sun, there is the moon. There is the night, and there is the day. As there is man; there must also be woman.  The list goes on and on in nature.  However, even in the darkness, there is light from the stars. In the man, there is also a woman in him, the softer side of his personality.  There is always an opposite force challenging us as we act, and sometimes, it can even come from within us.

When we want to achieve our target, we tend to push with a masculine force to go fast so as to utilize all the labor from our teams to achieve it.  As you might guess, this would be considered a heavy “Yang”-type strategy.  It’s important to note that there is nothing wrong with “Yang” strategy.  At times, you simply need to operate, to execute, and to move FAST.  But sometimes, the question is, “Can you? “Is everyone on the same page?”

When executing a plan, it’s important for everyone on the team (or our children, when dealing with them) to share our vision, or at least understand the reason for our actions.  There are times when authority and power are not sufficient to executing a plan because they have not bought into our vision.  They either do not understand our motivations for the prescribed actions, or have not bought into the vision we have laid out.  There are times when brute force cannot drive a project forward.  

The missing link here is influence, or what we believe is the “yin” in this equation.  Dr. Ichak Adizes of The Adizes Institute believes that when we have influence over other people, they both respect us for our competency and trust us that we are doing the right thing. And just as we defined “yin” above, influence is mysterious, and is slow to cultivate and grow.  

The next time you find yourself trying to move quickly through executing a project, and are hitting a wall, it may be time to try the slower, influence-building, “yin” approach.  Taking it slow might just be the quickest solution to solving your problem.