Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast
I recently read the debut novel by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, “The Terminal List.” In the novel, he references the iconic mantra used by special operators in the military: “Slow Is Smooth and Smooth Is Fast.” It reminds them, and us, that rework is painful and missteps are costly. And that the time lost by a job done carefully and correctly is more than made up for by avoiding the inefficiencies created by making mistakes or moving in the wrong direction simply because you were moving too fast.
Most advisors I know can benefit from internalizing this mantra.
The daily demands of running the business, managing a team, and responding with urgency to clients often cause advisors to move just as quickly in strategic directions that are often not their highest and best use of time. Yet they are often the member of their practices whose time is both the most constrained and worth the highest value.
So how can advisors operate with the competence, confidence, and conscientiousness of a SEAL, effectively slowing down to speed up?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Plan Ahead: Without a clear direction of where you want to go, it’s hard to know if you’re focused on the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that will have the greatest impact on getting you there. An advisor’s annual strategic plan should include both a longer-term vision, as well as very specific shorter and mid-term goals and the metrics best suited to measure success. If you don’t have an annual planning process that includes each of these, a strategic coach might be worth considering.
2. Take Time to Slow Down: New ideas and greater clarity often happen in moments when things are quiet or we’re thinking about something else. Make sure you’ve built at least some reflection/ organization time in monthly, if not weekly or daily.
3. Restoration—No, Just Rest: Regular time to recharge can not only help ensure you refocus on both items above but also enable higher productivity periods in between. Many advisors find it helpful to create a vacation calendar at the beginning of each year with regular breaks to look forward to and plans that include activities they find to be restorative and re-energizing.
4. Seek Inspiration to Expand What You Believe is Possible: Industry conferences, workshops, seminars, coaching, and study groups with growth-minded peers are all common ways advisors keep growth top of mind, ensure a positive mindset, and keep their time focused on the highest impact tasks. So long as it doesn’t prompt comparison, which can be energy zapping, benchmarking how others might be moving forward can often spur creativity, enable added efficiency, and help shortcut the trial and error process that is typical with growth.
Christy Charise, Founder & CEO of Strategic Advisor