At a local pistol competition, I was becoming somewhat frustrated at my lack of improvement. My draw times were respectable, my ability to acquire targets fine and the mechanics of my grip and trigger squeeze were solid. I just couldn’t break the hump. After all the years shooting, I was still finishing just below the top tier shooters. Recognizing my struggles, my friend Keelty (seriously, that’s his name) put his hand on my shoulder and sighed, “Lex, you gotta’ slow down to go faster.”
Keelty’s principle is sound. Have you ever seen some jack-wad weaving in traffic, swerving in between cars? And then ten miles down the road he gets off at the same exit as you only two car lengths ahead? I bet it made you chuckle to yourself (unless, of course, you were that jack-wad). Both arrive at almost the same time, but one without the stress, high blood pressure and risk of a speeding ticket.
I once worked with a woman who was a bundle of energy and nerves. Everything she did was at a full sprint. She worked her station like it was on fire and every second counted. If she was low on material, she literally ran back to the supply cabinet to replenish her stock. When she barked out instructions, she sounded like an auctioneer. Most emergency rooms don’t operate under the same level as her station worked. Most people thought her job was just so stressful that she had to operate at such a break-neck pace.
Interestingly, when she took vacation, the lady who filled in for her station produced virtually the same results, with one major exception: she wasn’t worn to a frazzle at the end of the shift. She took her time and, although not as experienced at the operation, ended each day with almost the same output as the station expert.
Not to be confused with general lolly-gagging, a steady pace often produces better results. A rushed scramble ends in more errors which must be fixed, misunderstandings which much be ironed out and a stress on the body which takes its toll. The hectic pace can’t be managed for long periods of time without a loss to effectiveness. Whether it’s driving in traffic, cleaning your abode or pounding out your daily workload, the lesson of slowing down to go faster is worth examining in many areas of our lives. By taking a few minutes to organize your plan and steadily focusing on each step, the job gets done correctly and ultimately quicker. Thus is the concept of the phrase ‘working smarter, not harder’.
I have two methods I use when I go grocery shopping. The first method is to make a list the day before I go. I ask Mama if there’s anything to add to the list. I check with Young Ranger and Chepe for what they need. A standard list is on my computer, organized by section of the grocery store. Many items are the same each week. For example, every week I will need a gallon of 2% milk, a loaf of bread and two bones for Fat Girl and Crazy Phyllis. I add or delete from the standard list as needed. When I’m shopping, all the frozen items are listed together, the fruits and vegetables, etc. In the store, I go straight to what I need and I’m out of there.
My alternative shopping method is the Wing-It plan. I usually choose this method when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to make a list. I rush through the store, shooting from the hip.
Would you like to take a guess at which method takes the least amount of time? The time I spend in the store on the Wing-It plan takes about the same amount of time as making a list and shopping from the list, much like the jack-wad driver weaving through traffic. Often, I end up walking several of the aisles more than once. Also, when I fly the Wing-It jet, inevitably I must return to the store within a couple of days for something I missed. This doesn’t include the savings incurred by buying only what we need and avoiding the crap I bring home in the form of junk food. Without my list, I am very susceptible to impulse shopping. The junk drawer in my kitchen full of bizarre utensils with the price stickers still attached is a testament to my shopping skills while rushing.
The opportunities in our lives where we can apply this are everywhere. The morning routine getting ready for work. The daily commute. Different work assignments. The list goes on. Maybe we could all do well to slow down and do things right the first time.
Meanwhile, back at the range, I’m getting better. Taking just a little longer to acquire the targets, I’ve been able to hack some serious seconds off my time. I’m still slower than Keelty, because when that buzzer goes off, sometimes I just can’t help myself. And Keelty keeps laughing and saying, “You gotta’ slow down to go faster.”