Carl Honoré: The Power of Slow
ABC News calls him “The godfather of the Slow Movement.”
HuffPost says he is pioneering “a growing cultural shift toward slowing down.”
He’s an international bestselling author…
His two main-stage TED talks have racked up millions of views…
So, yeah, you could say he knows what he’s talking about.
Here, he explains why doing things SLOWER can help you get better results, increase your happiness, and strengthen your relationships.
The Wake-Up Call That Created the Slow Movement
Carl’s passion for helping others began in Brazil, where he traveled as part of a cultural exchange program after university.
Coming from an affluent, comfortable, middle-class Canadian family, Carl suddenly found himself face-to-face with eye-watering poverty and violence on a scale that’s hard to comprehend.
Carl would go on to become a journalist and write about the poverty and injustice all too common in South America. But while he was passionate about his work, he had gotten stuck in fast-forward.
Every moment was a race against the clock.
“I was hurrying through my life instead of living it, and I think a lot of people get stuck in fast-forward like that and they need a wake-up call or some kind of a shock to the system to make them realize to put on the brakes. For some, it’s illness or burnout. For others, it’s missing out on valuable family moments.”
Carl’s wake-up call? The realization that he was racing through storytime with his son.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was becoming Snow White and the Three Dwarfs. And his son noticed.
Carl describes the incident as a “genuine, scorching epiphany, an out-of-body experience: Was I really willing to fob off my boy with a sound byte instead of reading him a bedtime story?”
That was the turning point for Carl.
He started investigating not only his own addiction to speed, but the bigger picture as well.
This moment of clarity was the launchpad for what became Carl’s “Slow Movement,” a simple but game-changing concept that encourages you to slow down to thrive in a fast world.
Carl’s first book, In Praise of Slow, explains the global trend toward putting on the brakes in… well, everything.
Don’t Hit the Ground Running – Start Slow
Carl became a self-proclaimed “slow crusader.”
But his journey to living slow was an equally slow process, and yours should be too.
“The greatest irony is that we’re all so impatient that we even want to slow down quickly,” he says.
Changing your lifestyle and your state of mind takes time.
But continue on your journey because change is coming.
The Secrets to Slowing Down
Years of practice in leisurely living have taught Carl a thing or two about successful slowdown. Follow these tips to start your own journey to slow.
Show, Don’t Tell
Carl has implemented slow living in every aspect of his life, from his work to the way he parents.
And he is a big advocate for the concept of “show, don’t tell,” which is particularly useful in both business and parenting.
“If you want your employees, business partners, life partner or children to slow down, you have to model slow yourself. If you’re running around like a headless chicken, constantly distracted by your inbox, juggling endless to-do lists, always breathless and multitasking, the people around you are never going to slow down either.”
So, the first step starts with you.
Reconnect with your own inner tortoise and then pass down the tablets of stone.
Let Friction Happen So Sparks Fly
“Frictionless” is an expression that comes out of Silicon Valley.
It’s the concept that everything has to be frictionless, as seamless as possible.
Sounds good in theory.
But you want friction.
Because when friction happens, it produces heat.
And that’s when the creative sparks fly.
When there’s no friction, life just happens. It’s all smooth sailing and you just want to get through life as fast as possible.
It’s the moments of friction, those moments when things aren’t moving smoothly, that the best ideas are formed, and the best memories are made.
Friction creates opportunities for people to have conversations. If everything is frictionless, you’re not having these points of contact that encourage you to interact with people.
And that can be relevant in family life and business.
Stay Ahead of the (Happiness) Curve
A key concept that Carl shares in his book is the “happiness U-curve”.
This explains how we experience a lot of happiness in childhood, only to have our happiness bottom out during the middle age, and rise again as we get older.
So, millennials are already heading towards the bottom of that U-curve or may already be there.
But is there a way to avoid the U-curve altogether?
Carl says yes. But it all boils down to living a good, happy life, which he attributes to these four factors:
- Physical health
- Mental and emotional wellbeing
- Human relationships
- Having a purpose
And the golden thread among these is that they all require a slow and steady pace because they take a long time to achieve.
The slow philosophy is key to unlocking all of these, and so unlocking happiness.
“The whole essence of the slow creed is enjoying, savoring, and deriving all kinds of good stuff from the journey and not focusing on the destination. And that’s true in personal journeys and businesses,” says Carl.
Many entrepreneurs believe that the key to happiness, or success, is reaching their financial goals.
It’s all about success and how fast you can achieve it.
But fast growth doesn’t always come with the wisdom required to handle success.
If you grow really quickly without going through the learning cycle necessary to sustain wealth at that pace, you end up losing it.
Millennial entrepreneurs should seek out networks and tribes of people who are at the same stage in their lives – someone who’s six months ahead, two years ahead, and 10 years ahead.
Use their range of experience and feedback to understand that success is a long journey.
Pluck little nuggets of wisdom from their experience and use it to unlock your own path.
Leverage the Creativity Connection
Carl believes in an intimate bond between slowness and creativity.
“When people are in a relaxed, unhurried, mellow, slow state, the brain shifts into a richer, more nuanced, more creative space. Psychologists call it ‘slow thinking,’” he says.
Entrepreneurs are almost always in fast mode. But you desperately need to slow down in order to thrive. You need to understand:
- When to be on and when to be off
- When to lean in and when to lean back
- When to change gears and find the right speed
There’s no universal recipe that works for everyone.
It’s about finding your own tempo at the right moment.
3 More Things to Remember
1. Learn to say no
Part of slowing down is stripping away the variables that cause you to stress. And one of the biggest stressors is the inability to say no.
Carl suggests starting small.
Don’t say no to your biggest client. Learn to say no to smaller, low-stakes requests and build up from there. Eventually, you’ll get a good grip on separating the important from the unessential.
2. Create a not-to-do list
When you start listing all the tasks on a not-to-do list, you’ll realize how so many things can be put off until a later date.
You don’t need to do everything today. In most cases, you won’t even remember that task in six months.
3. Consider your superpower
By focusing on the stuff that really matters or the things you’re really good at, i.e., your superpower, you let the other stuff melt away.
And that will not only be a huge relief but will also allow you to supercharge your superpower. Why? Because you’ll have so much more energy, verve, time, and bandwidth to invest in it.
To get in touch with Carl, visit carlhonore.com. This is also the place you can get everything, including books, talks, and courses on Carl’s Slow Movement.