One of my favourite radio shows, one that has run for decades, is, “Just a Minute.”
In it, contestants seek to speak, uninterrupted, for just a minute. They can be interrupted if they hesitate, or if they deviate from the topic, or if they repeat any words other than the key theme. Metaphorically, the show reflects the obsession Society has with success under pressure. The media lauds those who don’t hesitate, who, instead act decisively - and consistently so… who have developed the ‘habits’ of highly successful people. We rave about those who can stay focused on ‘the one thing’ until they achieve their ambitions. We celebrate those who ‘move on’ from one level of success to another, never repeating old patterns.
I get the wisdom.
But I’m so bored with it.
And I’m not certain it’s the whole truth.
What if we did the opposite?
What if we sought to hesitate, to deviate, and to repeat the same old patterns?
If I had learned to hesitate more, I would have made fewer rash and impulsive decisions. At least, they would have been more considered and less hasty. The power of the pause is the power of hesitation, and it can serve us well.
If I had followed more deviations from the expected, maybe, like so many great discoverers before us, I would have innovated more, or uncovered a profound insight that could move us forward.
And if I had repeated more iterations of what I was seeking to master, like a pianist – I would have got to the point that certain patterns had become second nature, allowing me the development space to build higher levels of skill upon them. As a touch-typist, I know that I type, as I am at this moment, ‘without thinking’. That’s a level of mastery that only comes through repetition.
Thus, I offer three different suggestions for the week ahead.
Firstly, hesitate when the pressure is on for you to make a decision in the moment. Ten seconds can make a huge difference - unless you’re trying to win a Game Show.
Secondly, deviate. Choose the road less travelled, the path not taken, the alternative lifestyle. Deviation can be the mother of innovation.
Thirdly, repeat. Find patterns that work for you and repeat them until you don’t have to think about them anymore.
And, of course, what I suggest to you, I am suggesting to myself. Foot off the accelerator, and gently on the brake. Indicator flashing that I’m going to turn off the highway, the main road. And mirror-signal-manoeuvre until I can do it safely without thinking.
A Moodscope member.