Fast Food Express Lane Blues …


Running - Presenter Media

FAST IS OVERRATED …  

Let me clarify …  

FAST IS SOMETIMES GOOD …

Sometimes in life, fast is good, helpful, or even essential.  Here are some instances of that, from the trivial to the vital:

When the food is supposed to be served hot.

When the work is due and others depend on your contribution.

When damage will occur to property if you do not act.

When a person needs immediate mental or psychological help.

HOWEVER, FAST IS OFTEN NOT GOOD …

We often apply this “Fast is sometimes good” concept incorrectly.   

First, we leave out the “sometimes”, assuming faster is always good.

Second, we apply the concept to everything in our lives.

I impatiently tap my foot while waiting the 45 seconds it takes to order, pay for, and receive my Biggie Burger from my favorite QuickNGreasy (trademark pending) drive-thru restaurant.

Waiting in line to be safe while flying on an airplane was so onerous that a “fast lane” option had to be created, so people were not “inconvenienced”.  This must have come from our grocery stores, which almost always have “fast checkout” lanes or even “self-check out“, both of which exist simply to get you out of the store even faster.

Many of us grow faint at the thought of actually reading an entire article, let alone a complete book, from the very first word to the very last … we demand an “Executive Summary”, which in my opinion is another way to say “I don’t have the attention span to concentrate on one thing for any significant amount of time.”

We have created this “Fast Food, Express Lane, Faster is Better, Executive Summary” perspective in many parts of our society and culture.   Now this might just be my misconceptions, while your experience with speed in our modern culture is different.  Take no more than 5 seconds to consider this possibility.

The problem is that we have created the need for all these incredibly quick ways to get through our days and nights for two reasons, at least in my experience:

We have too much to do and must find short-cuts in order to keep going.

We lack the ability to maintain a more focused and long-term approach to our work and our life. 

I  was thinking about all this recently, as I violently pounded my computer mouse on the desk, while impatiently waiting for a large amount of information to download.  Apparently I think a computer mouse works like elevator buttons … you know, press more often and harder to make the elevator come faster.

I was enraged at the idea of not having near instantaneous access to a 40-some page research article.

As I considered this, I remembered that I was originally miffed not to find a good synopsis of that multi-page article, to avoid reading the whole article completely so I would know what was in it.  That would take a lot of time.

Finally I zoomed out for a more objective view and realized that the reason I was searching for this information in the first place was to create a quick response to post on a social media site I frequent.   I was feeling the pressure of time before I ever saw the article and all of this was for a dubious purpose … why did my response need to be so quick?

Three learnings here for me, and possibly for you if you ever find yourself speeding along and wondering how you came to such a fast pace:

OUR GADGETS ARE NOT ALWAYS OUR FRIENDS …

I like technology and love the rare occasions when I can claim the title of Early Adopter.  However, my pride exists as another example of “faster is better”.

Technology these days almost always is available before it works.  Think about those sporadic updates that begin whenever you acquire the latest and greatest technology.  

This is another way of saying “We need to fix that thing we sold you”, which would be unacceptable in many aspects of our consumer life, but which we meekly acquiesce with when it comes to our computers, our tablets, and our smartphones.

When our technology allows us to do things more quickly, we become used to doing things more quickly.   We do not always question whether doing something more quickly is doing something more effectively, enjoyably, or correctly.   Why is download speed so darned important, anyway?

We buy the latest and greatest (interpret as faster) gadgets just because they are supposedly faster than our current gadget.

WE DON’T LIKE TO TAKE MUCH TIME WITH THINGS …

I mentioned some reasons why speed might be important at the beginning of all this.  Those and other good examples of real reasons to move quickly aside, many of us have adopted a “Speed Is Good” mentality, which we often apply without question or distinction to every part of our lives.

When we accept that mentality, we tend to expect things to be faster, whether an objective reason for increased speed exists or not.  We now become very irritated and start pounding on inanimate objects simply because they do not deliver results as quickly as we expect them to do.

We are an impatient species these days.

WE CREATE OUR OWN TIME CRUNCHES …

Aside from situations that involve life or death, injury or harm, or involve me getting a hot cup of coffee in the morning, most of our daily activities could be accomplished at a slower pace than we tend to assume.

Our organizations are often leaderless in this respect, allowing cultures of speedy response and fast action to grow, rather than to instill a more thoughtful and calmer pace.  We blame competition for this emphasis on speed, even though the economic landscape is littered with the bones of organizations and people who “got there first”.  Technology is even less our friend in this respect than I mentioned above.

On a personal level, things are even less complicated.  You choose how you live … if you feel stressed because things are moving too fast, choose differently.

JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN GO FAST DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU SHOULD GO FAST …

Of course, maybe I’m just feeling cranky this morning, because the pace of  my life seems to be negatively impacting the quality of my life.

If you can honestly say that more speed in your life IMPROVES the quality of your life, please ignore my ranting.

Seriously considering slowing down significantly in the very cloudy and soggy Heartland …

John

Image:  Presenter Media

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