John Ortberg ( Twitter @JohnOrtberg ), one of my favorite authors, once asked a mentor of his for the one piece of advice that would make the most difference in someone’s life. Without skipping a beat, the mentor answered, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
When I first read this a few years ago, I did some thinking about the way I was living and resolved to begin eliminating hurry from my life. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and still does. But I soon learned that eliminating hurry from my life is easier said than done.
Civilization has been gathering speed since day one. Every important advancement mankind has made has brought with it the capacity to do things faster. And so we have. The more we can get done, the more we can get done. The ability to multi-task has somehow become an admirable quality in today’s hectic world. Busyness is often confused with productivity and most of the time, the busier we are the more in a hurry we are. But being busy does not mean you have to be in a hurry.
The simple truth is, nothing truly important… nothing… can be done in a hurry.
You can’t do your best work in a hurry. You can’t establish meaningful relationships in a hurry. You can’t spend quality time with your kids in a hurry. You can’t be there for your friends in a hurry. You can’t rest in a hurry. You can’t plan for and live a healthy, productive life in a hurry.
So I have recently redoubled my resolve to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life. I’ve discovered the operative word here is “ruthlessly.” Eliminating hurry is simply not a casual occupation. It involves a purposeful, “ruthless” turning away from the way I’ve lived most of my life and an equally “ruthless” resolve to re-learn how to live at a manageable pace. It involves an almost minute-by-minute realization of how I am reacting to the pressures that cause hurriedness. It involves a lot of talking to myself and a lot of accountability to those who know about my quest and aren’t shy about calling me on it when I begin to give in to hurriedness.
I’ve discovered that hurry does, in fact, breed waste. I find the old sayings “haste makes waste” and “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” to be absolutely true. Hurry is a terrible waste of valuable time. When I’m in a hurry, it takes me much longer to do something than when I’m not in a hurry.
But the most important realization I’ve come to is that when I’m in a hurry, I don’t have time to be a better person. I can’t be the person I want to be because I don’t have time. How pathetic is that? My goal is to slow down and begin smelling the roses and being an encouragement to someone who needs a good word and pausing to appreciate the natural beauty all around me and contributing my time to serve someone in need and reading a book slowly enough to actually breathe it in and going on a road trip with no particular schedule in mind and stop caring about being interrupted because, after all, I’m in no hurry.
I want to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life and I encourage you to do the same. Your life will be better for it.
If you ever see me and I seem to be in a hurry, please call me on it. Be ruthless! Say to me, “You know that thing about ruthlessly eliminating hurry from your life, how’s that going?”
I’ll get the hint.