For Better Results, Trying Slowing Things Down

campfire-e1449461880550A few weeks ago, I started watching a television series called Longmire. Originally produced by A&E and picked up by Netflix last year, the show focuses on the exploits of Walt Longmire, a Wyoming sheriff. The sheriff and his deputies investigate a variety of crimes while navigating racial tensions between the locals and the inhabitants of a nearby Cheyenne Indian reservation – all against a backdrop of beautiful mountain scenery.

What appeals to me most about this series is the way Sheriff Longmire goes about solving each case. He never settles for the easy answer, instead preferring to dig deep into the facts and personalities surrounding each one. He makes plenty of mistakes, but his desire to do the right thing forces him to work harder and look further than others around him.

Longmire’s determination also means that some cases take several episodes to solve. The show is what I call a “slow burn.” As pieces of the puzzle start to come together, viewers are treated to some great character development and get to play detective right along with the cast. The end result is a story that’s more satisfying than most.

I think we could use a little more slow burn these days. It seems like life (particularly work life) has become so fast-paced and harried, that we just don’t have time to engage in a study of any one aspect for very long. We’ve become used to fast answers, obvious solutions, and projects that are organized and efficient. Along the way, we settle for the easiest option. We jump to conclusions. And we avoid those people or issues that might require more than a cursory glance to understand.

But the slow burn comes with some pretty compelling benefits; more in-depth information, better decisions, and stronger relationships. As desirable as those are, they typically lead to even better things – increased loyalty, higher productivity, more sales, and stronger revenues. Those are results any business would be happy to invest in.

For most of us though, slowing down takes conscious effort. It doesn’t come naturally. Only those with a desire for something more than moderate success are willing to endure the slow burn. If you think you are up to the challenge, here are three disciplines to pursue.

  1. Take time to build relationships. Most of the people we work with are little more than strangers. Make an effort to change that. Have real, honest conversations with people. Learn about their history, their passions, and their dreams.
  2. Take time to make better decisions. Resist the urge to dismiss an idea because it’s new, risky, or goes against your preferred way of operating. Commit to keeping your mind open to new possibilities.
  3. Take time to let things build. Recognize that, for best results, you often have to allow things to develop over time. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and good things come to those who wait. Give worthy projects the time they need to mature.

Netflix just announced plans for a fifth, expanded season of Longmire. It seems like the slow burn is working for the show – and for Netflix. While there are times that moving quickly is called for, I for one plan to try taking advantage of this tactic as I start my next season. I invite you to tune in as well.

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