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Slow Growth Leads to Lasting Success
The faster you’re endeavor grows, the quicker it dies on the vine.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You’re starting or recharging a habit, passion project, or an entrepreneurial endeavor. You’re fired up, in a moment of clear purpose and holy fury about it. You dive headlong into it. Your “day 1” is lit. So you set a system up to repeat the levels from “day 1” onwards into the future. You jam on it for a while.
What happens next?
Here’s my real-life version:
Some context: waiting in the wings of most of my days of living, house-holding, parenting, building this or that business is a deep desire to write a novel. My proverbial shelves are littered with two decades of stillborn story scraps. Not much end-product to show for it.
A few months ago I decided, if I’m going to coach people in support of them getting out of their own way and achieving their deepest aspirations… shouldn’t my writing desire be the proof in that pudding? Immediately I started writing a novel. I had such a lit first day, 1500 words in one morning sitting. Potent narrative was flowing. I designed a system to write a short novel in that one month: 1500 words per day for 30 days.
And it worked so well,… for about two weeks. I even went away for a two-night personal retreat in a cabin in the woods where I manically white-boarded the complex story arcs.
And then… life happened. The fury cycled down. I stopped writing.
Here’s where I think I went wrong.
“However fast your business grows, that’s the half-life for how quickly it can be destroyed.” (Chamath Palihapitiya)
Fast and furious growth will build seven stadiums in Qatar right quick, or get you on the rogues gallery wall next to Adam “WeCrashed” Neumann. Or you might scroll out the Great American Novel in a three week coffee bender like Kerouac’s “On the Road.” The hail mary is a razzle-dazzle success now and again. But in most endeavors, if you want your efforts to sustain and succeed, best slow your roll.
Put another way: a biology experiment placed one group of baby fish in warmer water, which super-charged their growth rate, then returned them to cooler, regular environment. Another group, they put in colder water, which slowed their growth rate, then returned them. They found that slow-growth fish lived 30% longer than average. The fast-growth fish died 15% earlier than average.
I won’t go so far as to say that pursuits in their infancy are like infant fish. But I’ll suggest that slow growth nurtures a nascent project with greater sustained success.
Taking this into consideration: once this super-busy time of the year passes, I’ll step back into that novel. But I’ll be damn sure to instill a chiller system.
In what ways are you endeavoring something with a break-neck speed where a slower process would make it thrive?