There is a lot of speed that comes from slowing things down.
Imagine: I am teaching a lesson in Chinese - it is near the end of a practice activity, and we are running out of time.
But my student asks… “Laoshi - 老师 - (Teacher)... Can we do that again?”
I quickly glance at the clock and calculate how much more we can cover in the remaining time against the large amount of content still left to do.
But, despite the slight time-related panic, I smile and say, “absolutely”.
In my mind, I remind myself of the phrase: mànmànlái - 慢慢来
(Note: the 'màn' is pronounced like the word ‘man’ in English and 'lai' is pronounced like the English word ‘lie’).
Manmanlai is a phrase I say often, both out loud and in my own inner voice, and it simply means: take it easy.
Take your time.
And after that very same lesson, I went back through the content, and I reduced the content by half.
A quote attributed to Confucius goes something like this:
‘It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.’
We often focus on the ‘don’t stop’ part of this quote in terms of quitting, but I think the first part is very important too.
An interesting thing happens when I go through things more slowly, and reduce the load.
The learning starts to happen more quickly.
By reducing the load and pace, sometimes we can even fix things before they become cracks in the learning journey.
As always, I find this true in other areas of life too.
Here are a couple examples of 'manmanlai'-ing, when slowing down and reducing the load helps enormously:
Health: When I feel unwell, or that I may be catching a cold, I try to fast, at least from food. I believe skipping meals helps the body reduce what it has to process so it can focus on healing.
Fitness: When I’ve pushed too far in a workout or stretch, I ‘manmanlai’ and take it easy for a couple of days. I slow the pace down with basic stretches, a lighter weight, or a shorter run. It gives the body time to recover and rebuild, and I usually come back stronger, running further.
Work: When you've had too many Zoom meetings or lessons back to back, manmanlai, reduce and take a break for a while. Maybe even decline some that are coming up, if possible. (If it's a recorded meeting, it's possible to decline and re-watch when it fits better with the workflow).
To finish, if we manmanlai, and slow down our pace and load, it's often the way to speed up learning and growth in the long term.
It also helps avoid us falling into cracks.
Which area will you manmanlai on this week?
1. A nod of thanks to Esha and Hamda, you may not realise but you provided the original inspiration for this post