It’s my new mantra… “We don’t have time to go fast.” I heard it stated this week at an Art of Hosting workshop that I attended. (The workshop was great and I highly recommend~ www.artofhosting.org) How many times have we personally or collectively rushed…gone fast and gotten mediocre or poor results because of it? I know the difference that the quality of my presence makes in an interaction– I have seen the difference that presence, relationship and engagement make in a family, in an organization, and in a community– and yet we still go “fast”.
I have kept a small, ceramic hippopotamus on my desk for the last 15 years now. It is a reminder of the story I heard about the National Zoo in Washington DC. The story goes something like this… Zoo leadership initiated a study on the amount of time customers spent in front of each zoo exhibit in order to better design their space and layout. Now, I know that the speed of life is fast… after all our culture is working on language for something faster than a nano-second because yes, that is too slow! But when I think of a zoo– I think of a more relaxed pace or at least a change in pace. The National Zoo Studyfound that the average amount of time a customer/patron stands and looks at a zoo exhibit isapprox. 5 seconds. Yep 5 seconds! Try it out. Stop for 5 seconds and try that pace on. 1– one thousand, 2-one thousand, 3 one-thousand, 4 one-thousand, 5 one-thousand.
So what? Well, one implication for the zoo is that hippopotami regularly submerge themselves for 60–90 seconds or longer. Most zoo patrons are seeing an empty pool of water, an empty exhibit– they are frustrated…they are missing the hippo. What is the hippo in our project,initiative or life? What would we see if we changed our pace and were more present? What impact could this have on our work, in our lives and in the world? We individually and collectively do not have the time to go fast!