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Why Applying The Brake Helps You Accelerate Your Career

the-weeping-womanI did something really weird in Melbourne last week. It’s a bit embarrassing. You see- I turned left. And by doing so, I was reminded of the biggest mistake I continue to make, in my life and career. Do you make it too? If ‘yes,’ then STOP! And turn left, like me. Here’s why.

The day started early. Emails and calls, even while walking to the six hour intense training session for 30 of our up and comers that I then led. As soon as the session finished, it was back to urgent emails and phone messages, and a quick sit down at a sidewalk café to make one particularly challenging call. It was now 4 pm, and I knew I could get back to my hotel with a fast walk in time to get in two more hours of ‘to do’ list before a dinner engagement. I started walking. And then it happened.

I turned left.

Instead of crossing the bridge to the city and my hotel, I turned left into the Victorian Art Gallery. Not sure why. Just did. Moments later I was in stillness, looking at Picasso, Pissarro, Turner and the Orientalists. Then I spent half an hour in the book shop there, bought some pencils and cards, and a book on line drawing. I turned left for an hour, but it’s impact was profound. Here’s why.

Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.

John Eales told me that. In his newspaper column, that is. And he’s right.

One hour spent turning left gave me clarity, and inspiration.

My mind settled, the daily dust on my soul was literally washed away. I was transported for a few moments to another world, of focus and presence, of ideas and courage, of ‘pirates’ and trail blazers. It reminded me – for a few moments- about the ‘bigger picture,’ about the richness and vibrancy of the world, and the opportunities in it for me and mine. It reminded me that the angst of business and daily realities are real, but mainly inconsequential.

Point is- I ended that hour refreshed. My mind was so much clearer, about a myriad of minor decisions and issues. And about some more profound feelings. Can’t explain this well- but I just loved it. The endorphins were flowing- just as if I’d done a 10 km run or eaten a mightily hot curry (the latter more likely in my case, sadly.)

Now- truisms are truisms because they are TRUE! “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” “Wake up and smell the coffee!” So here’s another: “Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.”

Yes- absolutely take yourself seriously in your life and career, be a 100 percenter, read the blogs, work to become a thought leader, think about ‘Brand You’, attend the talk, ‘turn up’ when others just can’t be bothered, push yourself to be the very best you can be. The list goes on.

But make sure you also do what I don’t do enough of. Make sure you slow down, often. Just for an hour. By doing so, you’ll be able to more easily speed up along the path you want to go. Does not have to be a week on top of Mount Baldy meditating. Does not need to be an art gallery. You decide the right left turns for you. But do it- often. How are you going to turn left today- just for an hour?

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21 Responses to Why Applying The Brake Helps You Accelerate Your Career

  1. Karina Small October 29, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Hi Chris,

    You are absolutely correct. A simple fact that is so easily forgotten! That I forgot a while back and nearly ran myself into the ground. Today, I will turn left by going for a walk by the lake. Thanks for the above post – and I will remember this. Karina.

    • Chris Savage October 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Thanks Karina!

  2. Richard Wright October 29, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks Chris, a much needed reminder to stop and take it all in.

    • Chris Savage October 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Thanks Richard!

  3. Angus October 29, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Taking time out to focus and decompress is so important. Makes you realise that we are all on the hamster wheel so you need to get off occasionally to rest up.

    • Chris Savage October 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Agree Angus…

  4. Geoff Ingall October 29, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Turned left into the gym,this morning. Couldn’t wait to get into the office and do something that doesn’t hurt. Works every time.

    • Chris Savage October 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      You’re braver than I, Geoff!

  5. Robert October 29, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Well written Chris and so true in today’s crazy world. In fact I find I have to turn left sometimes just to read your blog! So glad I do.

    • Chris Savage October 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

      Ha! Thanks Robert. And I am glad you do that!

  6. Jim October 29, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    I still love you from last week but this is even better, keep it up Chris.

    • Chris Savage October 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      Thanks Jim! I love you too.

  7. Helen October 29, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Enjoyed this post. Learning how to stop thinking is probably the greatest single step we can take to increase inner peace & happiness. With habitual thinking patterns worrying about what needs to be done, what’s next makes our thinking become unconsciously lost leaving us feeling depleted. Most of our thinking is a deeply ingrained habit which and TAKES PRACTICE to make a conscious break. True presence energises the mind. A good move to turn left for you!

  8. Bruce October 29, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Great stuff Chris.

    I’ve just returned from a 5 day left turn, a visit to Lijiang in China.
    Even although I was extremely busy at work.
    I knew from experience that I needed the benefit of change, vast landscapes and cold fresh air.
    Complete opposite to my chaotic business lifestyle in Singapore.
    My creative juices are flowing again and everything is manageable.
    I’m also blessed with a terrible sense of direction, I get lost very easily. So, many many left turns daily.
    Hope you are well
    Bruce

    • Chris Savage October 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Thanks Bruce. Great story. I was actually thinking of you today, as I was sitting here in a meeting in Saigon. Hope you are well, happy, and inspired as always. Chris

  9. Christiaan October 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Thnx Chris, we sometimes get tangled up in the small things , and sometimes its better to ” Turn Left” for even 5 minutes and realize what the bigger picture looks like…..and what really matters….
    Love Your work…..

  10. Padraig October 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    love the phrase “i turned left”. Brilliant. I once walked through Hong Kong city for 7 hours with the simple premise of at every red light turn left, otherwise keep going. I learned more about HK on that day than on any of the hundreds of trips since

    Great article
    Pod

    • Chris Savage November 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Great story, Pod!

  11. Debbie November 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    I did a major turn left, fed up with being ignored, needs not met, the usual blah. Now the company has lost a great Property Manager that has 13 years experience. Been in Real Estate 15 years. I Quit. not really sure what to do with myself now, but it sure saved me jumping off the balcony 🙂

    • Chris Savage November 12, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      Wow- Debbie, that is a big call! good luck with it. Chris

  12. Graham Rees January 4, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    So good.

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