Seth Godin makes a great point (when does he not?) when he draws a distinction between long and hard work.

Long work contains the number of hours one puts in at the office, such as the lawyer that bills a fourteen-hour day. Hard work is the effort put forth by the lawyer who synthesizes four disparate ideas to come up with a closing argument that wins the case — in less than five minutes.

If taken further, this idea reveals that effectivity has nothing to do with the amount of time one puts in, but rather with the ingenuity one has when spending the time one has.

That is not to say that hard work is not the direct beneficiary of long work. We all know we have to have moments of toil to get places. After all, I wouldn’t be working in German television if I couldn’t speak German. It took more than a Berlitz class to perfect my language prowess. Neither does one become President overnight or, in most cases, a star (although some network programming would have us believe that is true, too).

What does it take, then, to catapult oneself onto the hard work stage?

You may be tired of hearing me say it, but with Memorial Day in the near past already, the official summer season has begun. In full power of slow style, I tell you ingenuity can only live if you do, too.

In a word: vacation. Time off. Siesta, baby! A holiday for a week or two can work wonders, moving your mind from the long of it to the hard of it. You can, indeed, rejuvenate and then create when you’ve had a bit of a respite.

Benjamin Lichtenwalner’s blog reveals how little time off Americans have. According to his sources, only 57% of Americans use their allotted annual vacation time, while one out of four US workers does not have paid vacation at all. In fact, there is no US regulation mandating paid vacation, something Take Your Time Back is combatting vigilantly.

So live a little. No, live a lot. And in that life you can work, play and breathe. The best minds are those that are rested, clear and focused. Without vacation, you can have none of it. Passion alone cannot feed your fire. A little vacances can go a long way so that your long work is less and your hard work pays off.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Making the change

February 22, 2010

In this TED Talk, Seth Godin shares his insights about how to create a movement. It is no longer about advertising and selling someone something they don’t already have. It is about connecting people who are interested and leading them down the path of transformation.

So if you are committed to mindful living or know you need to make a change in your life, you can start today by telling others about this blog, about my book,  The Power of Slow, and about how they can live a more powerful life by embracing, not combatting, the clock.

Looking forward to hearing about how it goes for you!

Slow is the New Fast

April 20, 2009

Seth Godin recently talked about the pending death of all newspapers. Since I admire his thinking, this has gotten me a little worried. There’s nothing more enjoyable than reading the paper with a steaming cup of coffee in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon. It is the ultimate slow event as you power down to power up for the week. 

newspaper-printYou can’t curl up to a magazine quite like you can a paper. The smell of it alone brings me back to my six-year-old self. As a kid, I was an early riser, like my dad. We’d both go to the newspaper store on Saturdays to pick up what my dad called ‘the only newspaper worth reading’. He’d hand me a stick of Trident gum while he’d buy the New York Times and a pack of cigars. The overwhelming blend of tobacco and newsprint was stamped on my olifactory memory forever.

In a recent post, Seth Godin asks:

Ever notice that most car specs focus on acceleration, not braking? It’s more fun to focus on getting fast than it is on getting slow.

How would you manage or market differently if you knew that you had to hit the brakes, and hard? Slowing one thing and speeding up something else.

I would argue it is fun to focus on slow, that it has remarkable potential to align your life with what is truly important and that it allows the noise of your life to fall away. Embracing slow is about mindful living. Granted it’s worth asking how mindful it is to stay stuck in one routine because ‘you’ve always done it that way’. I’m all for tradition (and newsprint) when it serves a purpose, but Seth also has a point. Savvy businesspeople foresee trends and position themselves ahead of the curve. My only hope is we can still have a few remnant papers to curl up to. If only for a Sunday afternoon…