Innovation typically means we want something to be bigger, faster and better. Innovation comes from ideas.
“These days even instant gratification takes too long.”Carrie Fisher
“Who can do one pushup? Two pushups?” Yves Doucet, CEO and Culture Coach of Dovico Software, asks his team during their weekly Monday morning staff meeting.
Some of the hearty and athletic types quickly and proudly raised their hand in excitement, believing that two pushups are easy! Others slowly lifted their hands above their waists skeptically wondering what Yves is going to make them do.
In an unusual meeting situation that only he can make happen, Yves had everyone on the floor slowly do half a push-up for 30 seconds, then come up off the floor to complete the pushup for another 30 seconds. One push-up, one minute. You could hear the groans of those who were brave enough to participate fully and those excited hearty staff members who were eager to do those two pushups: they were now sweating.
After two minutes of this pushup torture, Yves drove home the point of growth through slowness. “We believe that going to the gym, running, you know thousands of miles or going on a bike or swimming thousands of miles will get us in shape. All you need to do is slow down. Growth comes from the transition.”
So how does this tie in with innovation?
Innovation typically means we want something to be bigger, faster and better. Innovation comes from ideas. Ideas come from our brains. Our brains are like muscles, for them to become bigger, faster and better, we need to stretch them to the point of breaking so that they can grow. Like slow pushups that stretch our muscles, taking the time to slow down, think and be present, encourages our brains to develop and come up with innovative ideas.
In his TEDx talk, Carl Honore, journalist and author of the book “In Praise of Slowness,” stated: “Why is it so hard to slow down? Speed is fun; it’s an adrenalin rush. Speed becomes a way to walling ourselves off from the distractions so that we don’t have to ask the most important questions of life.” Without these important questions answered, we can never innovate. Innovation requires answers to some very challenging questions.
We are fooled by the notion that by being productive and by working fast we are innovative. Like doing two pushups quickly, we believed that we could easily do two pushups at any given time, that is until we are asked to change the way we do them. When Yves’ requested his staff only to do two pushups in two minutes, slowing them down and pushing the pain of growth shivering down the arms of those who dared to try, he captured their attention on the physiology of change. Our idea of our strength changed, we became present, and we were open to new ideas on how to become stronger -to innovate ourselves.
Is it possible to slow down? Yes. Take a moment to observe each of your senses in the situation and live your life, instead of racing through it. When you become present, you will begin to innovate; when you have improved, you will be much more productive.
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Also published on Medium.