No hurry, no pause. That’s how Tim Ferriss, he of 4-Hour Workweek fame, defines luxury. “Feeling unrushed.” He says that almost everything you want to do in life can be achieved “...by calmly putting one foot in front of the other.”
This really resonates for anyone who has ever had a corporate job. For anyone who has ever had a side hustle, it resonates even faster. Hustles are hard, and all about hurry. It’s right in the damn name.
Aesop was pretty into the whole slow-and-steady thing, too.
Remember the tortoise and the hare? You don’t have to constantly be sprinting. Small steps add up. Don’t worry, don’t hurry – you’ll get there eventually. The important thing is the destination, not how sweat-soaked you are when you get there.
Would you rather make it to the mountaintop red-faced and out of breath, nursing a sprained ankle? Or arrive half an hour later, but poised and glowing, ready for a triumphant selfie?
Be the tortoise, dependable and consistent, not the frenetic, overconfident hare. Be the rhythmic drip of water that wears a crater in the boulder, not the violent tsunami that hurls gravel all over the beach and then disappears back into the sea.
Constant, steady progress
Slow and steady. No hurry, no pause. No rat race, no hustle, just constant, steady progress. It sounds great, right? Pretty zen.
To wake up and work a bit on something you truly love, to don your tennis whites and lay by the pool for an hour before sitting down at your vintage typewriter, distilling wisdom from your well-rested mind into helpful pearls to guide the next generation toward greatness. There aren’t any deadlines, there isn’t any pressure, there’s just you and your ideas and all the time in the world.
So what would that look like for you? Really imagine it for a minute. Close your eyes and picture your own version of No hurry, no pause.
Would you be in tennis whites or hiking boots? Would you be behind a keyboard or a podium or a marquis sign or a windshield? Would you travel, would you grow your business, would you create, would you explore? What would you do if the whole week was a weekend? No hurry, no pause – just slow and steady bliss.
So now, let me ask you. Are you a tortoise or a hare? Are you a drip or a tsunami? Are you a ball of sweat or a picture of poise?
Ok, now, let me ask you again - and this time, be honest. Because I’ll tell you right now – I’m a sweaty hare-tsunami all day long.
Creativity happens in leaps and bounds
This blissful, peaceful, steady-state existence everyone’s talking about? I’d be bored out of my mind.
What’s more, I’d never get anything done. If you’re one of those people with unlimited levels of intrinsic motivation, more power to you, but I need a deadline. I need a timer. I need someone watching me and judging me and telling me I suck so that I get better.
And if you’re this deep in an article that’s ostensibly about motivation and productivity, then you probably do too.
So much of creativity happens in leaps and bounds – those manic periods where you’re so possessed with ideas that you burn through Moleskines like they’re Post-Its. Those thirty six hours with no sleep where you come out on the other end with a half a novel or three-quarters of a business plan. Those weeks where you blow past your stretch goals, hit every moonshot, and then start heading for Mars1.
Hurrying is wonderful. So are pauses – when you’ve earned them.
When you finish that hike and then fall into bed, exhausted and sore but with 1,000 meters of altitude between you and that morning, that’s a well-earned pause. When you take a few days off after six months of non-stop hustle to get your business up and running, and it doesn’t all come crashing down, that’s a well-earned pause.
But you don’t need downtime to recover from constant contentment. While it might be nice to never feel exhaustion, or stress, or pressure, or worry, it’s also nice to know you’ve overcome it. Pauses give you time to reflect.
The thing about hares is that they keep their options open.
So – slow and steady or leaps and bounds? Luckily, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
The thing about hares is that they keep their options open. Hares can hurry, but they can also go slow and steady if they want to. Tortoises, on the other hand, can’t – they have one gear. There’s a time and place for diligence and discipline, but that’s not the fun part. We don’t get up early, stay up late, quit our day jobs, or sacrifice our weekends to plod.
You need to be the tsunami, at least sometimes – because if you adopt the drip mentality, it’s really hard to get out of.
But wait, you say. You can’t be the tsunami. You aren’t supposed to be the hare.
Aesop says so. Tim Ferriss says so. Who am I to argue with the greatest moral and motivational minds of the ages?
Cartographers, not trail guides
Tim Ferriss himself says that No hurry, no pause is something that appeals to him now – but it hasn’t always been his mantra. He built up a media empire from scratch, and that wasn’t because he knew a guy who knew a guy. He hustled. He hurried. He probably paused. But he put in so many cycles that he’s ready to smooth things out.
That’s one thing to keep in mind with these motivational gurus - they’ve already reached the mountaintop. They’ve made it , and they’ve earned respect, and they can tell you how they did it – but that doesn’t mean it will work for you.
They are cartographers, not trail guides.
Their advice comes from the top looking down, not the bottom looking up. Your own circumstances are going to be different. Maybe it’s raining or maybe there’s a mudslide or maybe you’ve got ropes and crampons and they didn’t... who knows? But I do know that terrain can change, and maps don’t always get updated.
Aesop doesn’t know your life. Tim Ferriss doesn’t know your aerobic capacity.
While it’s highly advisable to seek out advice, you don’t have to follow all advice all the time. Maybe No hurry, no pause sounds good to you – or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it will someday.
But, right now, you decide.
Aesop doesn’t know your life. Tim Ferriss doesn’t know your aerobic capacity. So what if you want to run straight up the mountainside for a couple hundred meters and then double over, gasping for what little oxygen there is at that altitude? So what if the next guy chugs slowly and steadily along the trail, behind you until he’s not, toddling on past you like a cheerful little turtle?
You’ll catch your breath, catch up to him, and make it up the mountain on your own terms.
1 Say what you will about Elon, but he ain't no tortoise ↩
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