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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Does Pace Really Matter?

Written by: on November 17, 2020

Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, in their book Not Doing, discuss the idea that not doing is not necessarily a lack of activity. They bring in Carl Honore’s work on slow movement. Honore presents the premise that slow movement is all about pace; a pace that requires us to know the conditions in which we live and how we are personally wired. Based on this information, we can live at a pace that is natural for the environment we are in. By taking the pressures and urgency out of life, it allows us to connect with life at a deeper level which improves our effectiveness, equating to “stillness in action.”[1]

Much of what we do in life is oriented around choice. At times, decisions are thrust upon us by circumstances or people. Much of what happens in life is beyond our control. But with each situation, whether self-caused or forces upon by society we have to make a choice. It would be nice if every choice we made came with a warranty guaranteeing a positive outcome. I would love to believe that every good decision we make, due to the dilemmas we face, will end in dessert, and that every bad decision would end in disaster. Life would be much easier. Sadly, some good decisions can end in disaster and some bad decisions can end in dessert. Good things sometimes happen to bad people and bad things sometimes happen to good people. Life isn’t fair, even at its rawest level. The struggle for justice in each one of us is real and necessary. Does our pace of life have anything to do with our ability to choose? Does our pace of life really make a difference? Can it help us maneuver life in a more harmonious fashion?

Response time is often not considered when looking at pace or speed in a person’s life. It is easy to see that the faster the pace, the less response time a person has. Part of reaching a pace that allows for “stillness in action” is knowing what we really want out of life. As a coach I am often amazed at how many in leadership don’t have a clue of what they really want or a plan to assist them in getting there. When the question is asked the responses can vary; “I want to be happy”, “I want to be successful”, “I want to matter”, or “I want to make a difference.” Few truly have an idea or understand exactly what that looks like. I usually bring everyone back to a starting point. I ask them what their needs are, what their desires are, and what their talents are. Where these three answers intersect is where the work begins. It is here, in my opinion, that we learn to live at a pace that is natural for the environment we are in. It is here where the hard choices are made that will affect how we relate to those around us. It is here we can begin to take the hard looks at the conditions in which we live. This place of choice is where we learn to “carry that stillness within as we go about our activities, a stillness within action rather than rushing around going through a vicious cycle of exhaustion and rest.”[2] It is in knowing ourselves that brings a sense of security to walk a pace that allows us to not do, not know, and broadens our ability to respond.

[1] Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action (London: LID Publishing, 2018), 237

[2] Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Doing, 232

About the Author

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Greg Reich

Entrepreneur, Visiting Adjunct Professor, Arm Chair Theologian, Leadership/Life Coach, married 39 years, father and grandfather. Jesus follower, part time preacher! Handy man, wood carver, carpenter and master of none. Outdoor enthusiast, fly fisherman, hunter and all around gun nut.

10 responses to “Does Pace Really Matter?”

  1. mm Dylan Branson says:

    Greg, I like the point about where our needs, desires, and talents meet is where we can begin to set our pace. I suppose in one sense someone can “not do” in a fast-paced life if that’s where their pacing naturally sets in and similarly for those who are slower paced.

    When I’ve chatted with my friend who’s a coach here in HK, one of the things he’s told me is that it’s common for him to focus on the weaknesses so they will learn to strengthen them. In your experience with coaching, have you ever challenged your clients to move at the opposite pace for a time so they can experience what it’s like?

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Dylan,
      Much of my coaching is leadership oriented. The only time I call upon a client to examine a weakness is if it is a character issue. These weaknesses are like cracks in a foundation and need to be fixed. The higher the building the deeper and stronger the foundation needs to be. Character flaws can destroy even the most gifted leaders. When it come to skills or talents I focus on strengths. If our skills and talents where rated on a scale from 0 to 10 a person with a 3 or 4 skill/talent may be able to raise it with hard work 2 or 3 points to a 5 or 6 which is average. But if a persons talent is a 5 or 6 working hard can raise it 2 or 3 points making that talent between a 8 or 9 which is above average. In a competitive world, average won’t get you noticed but above average will. For a weakness that is not a character issue I recommend to staff your weakness. In other words bring people around you whose strengths are your weakness. To burn up energy working on a weakness that someone else can do far better than you is a waste of time and energy that can be better utilized in doing something that will truly make a difference. I am a big fan of building a team or network of individuals that staff my weakness. What I do I do very well, What I don’t do well I refer out to those who do. This way I can serve my clients in a better way and the others are being served by someone better equipped to serve them than I am.

  2. mm Jer Swigart says:

    One of the values we live by as a team is to “walk at the pace of trust.” On average we take 10,000 steps a day and many of them tend to be unrushed. Yet internally we run the sprints and the marathons as we respond to our own urgency and that of others. We move so fast, I wonder if we even have time to consider if we’re going anywhere.

    Trust, for us, is the governor on our pace. It demands that we move deliberately, thoughtfully, and in relationship. What’s your governor?

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Trust is a big issue. It is foundational in nature to everything. The governor for me is authenticity and knowing my purpose in life. If I can’t be authentic in what I do I usually give it to someone who can. I spent a good portion of my corporate and earlier ministry life trying to be some one everyone else wanted me to be. Knowing that is what was needed to gain that next promotion. Now I am untethered and spend time on who God has called me to be. My personal purpose statement is ” I will encourage and challenge myself and others to live lives of authenticity and excellence.” Everything I do is filtered thru this mindset. If it is doesn’t ring true to my purpose I don’t pursue it, no matter how good and honorable. By knowing how God made and wired me I can eliminate distractions and focus on the calling God is setting before me no matter how crazy the pace or how unknown the future is.

  3. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    I have found having a Rule of Life to be very helpful in setting my pace in life. My core principles are: Sabbath keeper, Shalom seeker, and Servant leader. Every thing I do I filter through these principles- does my choice align, then I say yes. If not, I give a hard no. Do you help your clients establish a Rule of Life, or something similar? Do you have one that you follow? What are your core principles that help set your pace?

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Darcy,
      I do often work with clients helping them to adopt a life purpose statement. For me I have a one page list of what I call non-negotiables. Some of these are scriptural based some are just personal convictions.
      These are boundaries I put around myself that keep me wandering to far of course. I also have a life purpose statement “I will daily challenge myself and others to live lives of authenticity and excellence.” I have this posted in my office with a paragraph defining what that means for me. I have also written a vision statement looking into the future and describing how my life purpose statement looks like and how I sense God is calling me to live it out. This is a living document that I change annually as I navigate the process and as God unfolds more of the vision. This is a process I created and adopted over 25 years ago using several books and programs I am familiar with.

  4. mm John McLarty says:

    Your post reminded me of a mantra I think I heard first from Len Sweet. Paraphrasing Philippians 4- “Anxious nothing. Prayerful everything. Thankful anything. Peace.” These words have helped to slow my thoughts when I want to rush to react. Being mindful of and managing our pace is a crucial leadership lesson. As a coach, what are some of your “go-to’s” to help someone slow the game down?

  5. mm Greg Reich says:

    John,
    Actually most people hire coaches to increase productivity not slow things down. I tend to believe that by working smarter and decluttering your life increases productivity and saves time. Depending on the client I find that helping them adopt a life purpose statement helps them filter out things that don’t belong. We all need a refresher course on what our priorities are and what is actually the tyranny of the urgent.

  6. mm Chris Pollock says:

    Thanks Greg 🙂

    Peace in the ‘not doing’ and ‘not knowing’; in the being-still-trusting. Thankful to perceive of the possibility of shalom and some-kind of fulfilment at the intersection of needs, desires and skills. This can be used as a help in the pursuit of identity, out of lostness, to find bearings through the dark in ‘self’?

    Last night, new orders were given by the provincial government with regards to safety measures surrounding the Pandemic. Last time there was a knee-jerk response amidst leadership at the Mustard Seed which created a wave of fear on our Staff Team. I was concerned that this might happen again.

    Pace. Slow to action. Being still, gives opportunity for natural action (after-anxiety) to happen? Being quiet, gives opportunity for natural messaging (after-anxiety) to happen? I know I have been missing this a lot recently. Doing nothing, being quiet can challenge thresholds of vulnerability and (perceived) alienation. It can be painful, to withhold self from behaving naturally in order for best, truest action to come about naturally? Self-sacrificing (for that spotlight being ‘the voice’ and ‘the muscle’), and opening way for the leadership in others to come alive? Sometimes, I struggle with this however, more and more I become curious in remaining quiet at a time that I could be loud and push direction just to see…from where it’s going to come. It can be awkward-making too.

  7. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Which of the two books by D’Souza and Renner did you resonate with more? I found “Not Doing” a bit too allusive and vague, but I intend to revisit “Not Knowing.” I’m not sure if it’s a reflection of the books or my own temperment.

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