Jessica Soroky’s Guest Post #31: Slowing Down to Reach Responsibility

I am aware that I often respond without pausing to let what was just said really saturate my brain.

I’ve heard a lot about the concept of slowing down your thinking and always wanted to read more on the subject but could always justify why I didn’t have time.

With the constraints of work and family, my intention to read more got passed by. But the key is it that I chose to deprioritize it.

It wasn’t until I was alone at an airport recently with no Wi-Fi that I made the choice to get out of my own way. Instead of picking up a gossip magazine and using different justifications to put off reading something of substance, I simply chose to start looking through the business books.

What I found interesting was that the section entitled “Business” was laden with books centered in psychology, power, and YOU, not business. Once I got past the “How-To’s” and “Dummies” books, I found a fascinating book: Thinking, Fast and Slow, written by Daniel Kahneman.

A few moments later it was on my Kindle and I dove in. The main point of the book is that we all have two speeds when we think. The author calls these “System 1” (fast thinking) and “System 2” (slow thinking, or slowing down to think).

To summarize fast thinking, or System 1: it is effortless thought. It is the things we do without even thinking about it.

For instance, when a problem occurs, our immediate response is denial: “No way!” We don’t have to stop and think about going into denial; it is an intuitive response our brain has done so many times that it does it without thinking about it.

System 2 is the opposite: slow thinking it is effortful thought, something that requires your attention and cannot be done while trying to do something else at the same time. You are slowing down to think.

Writing my blog posts is an awesome example of System 2 thinking. When I write, my entire attention and focus is on what I am doing. The act of writing demands so much attention that it forces me to slow think.

“Well, s**t.”

No wonder I process my problems so much more effectively when I write as I work through them – I am slow thinking the problem, not fast thinking a response!

Before reading even the first page of the book I was aware I am more often a fast thinker – opening my mouth before my brain has a chance to catch up. This oftentimes results in responding when I am still in a mental state below the line of responsibility (see The Responsibility Process™).

A new pattern I have noticed: when I’m thinking fast, I tend to cut off the person I am speaking with. Before they are even done with their thought, I respond. No way did I just hear what they said, processed it, and chose a response before they were even done speaking.

It is when I am slowing down I become aware, allowing myself to process a problem, that I get to responsibility instead of jumping the gun with a response.

The intention behind transitioning from a fast thinker to a slow thinker is one that is a commitment to myself, for my benefit.

The Responsibility Process is one of the tools in my box to work through a problem and solve it instead of coping with it, and now I have another tool: to remind myself of slow thinking.

Understanding the speed at which I am thinking is an awareness event for me. A way to trigger, “Hey! Slow down, and HEAR this – process it, then respond.” It is the mechanics behind how I choose to respond.

My stretch this week: when I encounter a problem, I want to consciously slow down. I want to not only listen but to hear everything and give my brain the time it needs to process before I respond.

Jessica Soroky, CSM

Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Responsibility on 04/09/2014 01:50 am
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