The Quiet Leader: Seat Work

Wise men say, only fools rush in…”

Elvis Presley

Our world hates Slow. Think about how you respond to slow drivers or to slow, congested traffic? Slow grocery store lines? Waiting of any kind? Or any Government process? How long does it take until you are cursing the “Idiot” who is responsible for making you wait, or inconveniencing you? We hate slow. Slow is not cool.

What happens if you think slow? In our society, slow can be another word for stupid, as in “What’s your problem, are you slow?” And fast is often equated with successful, aka Fast Company.

How did we come to believe that fast is how a company, or how a life should be lived? Slow has accomplished a lot of things for us:

    • DaVinci took over five years to paint his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.
    • Michelangelo took four years to paint the Sistine Chapel.
    • It took more than two years to build the Eiffel Tower.
    • Britian took 11 months to develop their first computer, Collossus, which began to do math problems (code cracking) in 1944. The Americans, who like things to be bigger-stronger-faster, took 19 months to build theirs (the ENIAC) and they referred to it as a “Giant Brain” whose task was to study the feasibility of the Hydrogen Bomb. Hmm, look where that got us?!?
    • The microwave that you love so much took ten years to invent. Now it can heat soup in under 2 minutes.
    • It took about 30 years to build the Internet. It took just 28 seconds for me to find out how long it took to build the Internet.

Where do your best thoughts occur?

I remember once having to introduce a speaker at an event and I stressed about it for weeks. I planned what I would say and I even rehearsed in front of the mirror. I lost sleep and I ate too much. Then the day arrived and I did my part. What I said must have worked, because the speaker thanked me and commented on my ability to think on my feet. It was nice of him to say it, but he was wrong. Most of my preparation was not Feet work, but Seat work. As an introvert, my best thoughts are usually not in the moment.

“If you like fast, just think about this fact: The three wise men have had a much bigger impact on history than the three blind mice.”

Most introverts need time to respond. The time we take helps us to make connections and have richer thoughts. If you like fast, just think about this fact: The three wise men have had a much bigger impact on history than the three blind mice. And Elvis had it right, rushing is for fools.

Slow is not always better and for most introverts, our best thoughts need time and cultivation. Usain Bolt is said to be the fastest person to have ever lived, holding records in both the 100 and 200 metres. Do you know how long it took him to become as fast as he is? The answer is 28 years. And the shoes that he burns through when he ran 100 meters in 9.56 seconds? Those running shoes are nearly 120 years in the making! Fast is okay, but to get to fast, we have to built on a foundation of slow thinking, done well.

For me, my best thoughts usually come after a meeting, when I am sorting through the conversation, mentally digesting. So you may get a call or an email from me after the fact. If you want an introvert to be at our best, help us prepare ahead of time. Give us information and tell us what may come up. And give us time to think after the meeting and a way to talk to you away from the crowd.

Here are a few other ways that introverts can use their Yoda-Slow thinking powers to the advantage of everyone:

  • Have breaks in the middle of a meeting or break off into smaller groups. I love conversations in smaller groups because when I listen to other people, I am thinking and seeing from other angles. I don’t hesitate to talk because I am afraid of risk, I really don’t have anything to say… YET. Why waste words if there is nothing to be said?
  • Introverts need to care about something in order to think deeply about it. Caring needs to be cultivated, and that takes time. Thinking important thoughts is not like turning on a switch. Introverts need time to figure out how a problem matters to them, to our clients and to the world. Then we are on it!
  • For an Introvert, we Google search our experience, our research, our opinions and our own personal history all at the same time. It all comes up. That is why an issue can be triggering. All of the information that we have can be brought up. What we know is part of who we are. Out of respect, we won’t share everything in a group setting until we can gauge the depth the group is ready for. Just so you know, we are thinking White House Underground Command Center deep most of the time.

The world needs slow just as much as it needs fast. So go ahead. Claim the right to slow down. Take a breath and STOP. For Extroverts, it may feel like cardiac arrest but don’t worry, you can ask your Introvert friends for some pointers. Just wait until the office door is open.

Join the Quiet Leadership Facebook Page here or add your name to the email list by clicking the FOLLOW button on the top right. Please “Like” the article and share it with other Introverts and those who love them.

Keep it real.


This post is the fourth in a series on Quiet Leadership. You can join the Quiet Leadership Facebook Page here or add your name to the email list by clicking the FOLLOW button on the right. Please “Like” the article and share it. Get ready to become part of the Quiet Revolution.

Check other Quiet Leadership articles here: the Quiet Leadership Manifesto, The Quiet Leader: The Imposter Syndrome and The Top Ten Reasons Listening is Better than Talking.



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