Less is More, Slower is Better



“Slow and steady wins the race.” – Aesop

I like to get in touch with my inner-tortoise whenever I need to remind myself to stop and smell the roses.

After all, Agile Results is not about racing through your moments to the finish line.

It’s about making the most of your moments and knowing you’re on your path.

In the TED Talk, Carl Honore Praises Slowness, Carl reminds us that less is more, and slower is better.

Key Take-Aways
Here are my key take-aways:

  • Today’s world is about speed. Carl shares several examples of how we want everything faster: speed reading, speed walking, speed dating, speed Yoga.
  • The Slow Movement.   There’s a slow movement around the world in response to the fast pace of today’s world.   Carl says it’s a philosophical declaration — “we believe that in the 21st century, slowness has a role to play.”  According to Carl, countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland have slowed down, yet have improved their economic strength.
  • Don’t race through your life – Live it. Find the lost art of shifting gears.  For example, we get more pleasure from food when we cultivate, cook, and consume it.  Sometimes it takes a wake-up call.  For Carl, he found himself racing through telling his kid bedtime stories and the light-bulb went off.  Now, it’s a treat he enjoys to cap his day, instead of another chore on his To-Do list.
  • Schools are slowing down to get results. Carl shares examples where schools have cut back on homework and math and science scores went up.  Some universities noticed that the caliber of students is falling.  They have the grades and extra-curricular activities, but they lack spark.  They lack the ability to think creatively, they don’t know how to dream, and they need to put on the breaks a bit.  Carl noted that Harvard said students get more out of life and more out of Harvard when they slow down … and the letter from Harvard was titled “Slow Down!”
  • Happier, healthier, and more productive. Slow down to lead a happier, healthier, and more productive life.  Carl is a reformed rush-aholic.  He no longer overloads himself and he now leads a happier, healthier, and more productive life.   Carl says his most important measure is that his relationships are deeper, richer, and stronger.  That sounds like a pretty good measure to me.
  • There’s good slow and bad slow.   Rather than just slow down for the sake of slowing or apply slow to everything, Carl suggests there is good slow and bad slow.  Some slow is just a waste of time.  Some slow is good at the right moments and improves our results.   Carl shares some examples of good slow: taking the time to eat a meal with your family with the T.V. shut off,  taking a look at a problem from multiple dimensions and make the best decision, and slowing down to savor your life.
  • People do everything better.   By slowing down at the right moments, people do everything better.  Carl shares examples: eat better, sleep better, make love better, work better, and live better.
  • Consider time as a cycle rather than linear.  Carl shares another view of looking at time.  Rather than see it as a race through linear time, enjoy and embrace the cycle of things.  Don’t race against the clock – savor the cycles.

If you’ve ever felt that the more hurried you go, the more behind you get, maybe you just need to practice switching gears and add some slow to your life.

Photo by Clearly Ambiguous.


  1. Beautiful distillation!
    And I loved Aesop’s quote – it’s funny but my kids like watching a video tape with the story about how the turtle won over rabbit in the race… 😉

  2. Finding the good slow and reducing the bad slow is hard for me. I need time to assimilate deep thoughts. I’m not a speedster at creative or intellectual concepts and I don’t think I should be. That’s why this post really resonated with me. I need to reduce the bad slow, the things that slow me down and just suck up my time.

  3. We definitely can’t live life to the fullest if we rush all the time and don’t notice anything around. Thanks for the reminder to slow down, I definitely needed it considering the hectic past couple weeks here.

  4. Somehow I wonder if this was especially timed for me. I seem to be that type of person with a handful of things on the go at any moment, so the idea of slowing down isn’t usually a pleasant one. However, there are times where one can savor the moment and take some time to really get a full experience rather than moving on so quickly after getting something done. Like the professional athlete that celebrates a great play, sometimes we need to do that too.

    Remembering to live life is a good point that shouldn’t be forgotten. I find it interesting that fast food wasn’t targeted in the talk. Everyone has their own rhythm and this should be celebrated. I wonder how often do we celebrate our own sense of timing? Whether it be a witty remark at just the right time or doing something that makes someone’s day, life can be an awesome thing and we really shouldn’t lose sight of that.

    Thanks for the link to the talk. Oddly enough, it was 4.5 years ago, so one can wonder if those movements are still going or did they fade away? I tend to wonder if I have a couple of inner tortoises, one that savors slowness and the other that is perpetual protection in a shell.

  5. This reminds me of the slow cooking movement! or back to cooking it yourself rather than just warming up food.
    I need to find the positive in slow…I am so frustrated with how slowly my healing work is going…walking slowly for 1 mile does not give me the endorphin experience of 5 miles around the Lake with speed.
    The house gets dirty just as fast, but I can not keep up with it…
    I think I need to watch this lecture…

    Oh I can think of one good thing…I have read 2 times as many books so far this year, because I have to spend so much time lying flat or sitting in a chair… That is always fun to contemplate!

  6. You were so committed to “slow” you waited five years to post his ’05 talk! 😉

    Just poking fun…I had not seen this presentation and enjoyed it. Thanks!

  7. @ Alik

    Thank you!

    My favorite version is the Bugs Bunny version.

    @ Karl

    You know how to leverage your process and I think that’s the real key here … and yes, reducing bad slow is a good thing, even if that’s a slow process 🙂

    @ Lana

    I hope you have some good slow following your hectic period … it’s a nice cap on things.

    @ JB King

    I really like that … celebrate the great plays, a play or moment at a time.

    I get the impression the Slow Movement slowed to a standstill (the site seems dated and there are some broken links.)

    @ Patricia

    Slow healing sounds like bad slow, but you’re right, you can find the good in it … even it’s as simple as enjoying precious, painfree moments or making it through more books.

    @ Jason D.

    It’s like a fine wine … it gets even better with age 🙂

  8. “Slow and steady wins the race.” – This phrase lost it’s meaning somewhere along in mid-90s. Slow sounded Old Fashioned. Slow became the next Loser. I’ve always believed in it though, and at times when I wonder if indeed I need to upgrade my wetware, posts like this reassure me – It’s OK! We will win! 😛

  9. I recently made a conscious attempt to shift gears and I could relate to almost every line! Made me feel I am not alone after all. And that I am not being a jerk by doing this at a point when my career could race to the heights!

    One really has to experience it to understand it. Thanks for putting it up in words so beautifully.

  10. @ Rahul

    It did lose meaning. I think it needs to make a comeback. In today’s world, smart and gets results wins the race … so you can go slower and still win when you’re working on the right things, with the right energy, the right way.

    @ Abhijeet

    You are not alone. Slowing down is a good thing … enjoy the journey and the destination.

    I’ve found that by making smarter choices and picking my paths more carefully, I can follow my growth and create the experiences I enjoy.

  11. I remember leaving my Dutch job behind in 2002 to do volunteer work in Eritrea, Africa. It was exactly the switch Carl talks about, where life becomes more enjoyable. I would add that my view upon it became more crystallized to a point where I could actually prioritize the more important aspects of my life.

    The next 8 years of traveling I had the privilege of witnessing the views of several nations towards the speed culture of the West. In Sri Lanka the desire to fully embrace faster lifestyles has now left a harrowing mark on its originally beautiful cultural landscape, while in countries like Ireland and Thailand the opposite is true. Strong cultural insight has allowed these nations to cherry pick elements that work without sacrificing their way of living as a whole. It’s no coincidence that creativity reigns supreme in these places.

    When I now reminisce about happy times in the last decade images of Asmara, Galway and Bangkok appear in my mind’s eye. And I do take a slow moment to appreciate them.

  12. @JD I can see hints and traces that “a comeback” has already started. More people are getting disillusioned (and tired) of this unfruitful competition aka rat-race.

    Off Topic – a while ago I was watching this documentary “2012: The Odyssey” and a large part of it resonated the same sentiments echoed in this post. Very interesting!

  13. Hi JD .. going slower means doing it properly .. and having fewer mistakes, saving time because there are fewer corrections .. if Aesop’s fable is still around – it’s probably true! Thanks .. TED talk/s to catch up on … anon

  14. @ Hilary

    Related to that, I was watching Gilligan’s Island last night and the Skipper told Gilligan about two sayings from his father:
    1. Hurried work is worried work
    2. A job not well done is not a well-done job

    It also reminds me of the saying, “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

  15. @ Marcel

    I think you put a fine point on it where folks need it most … the right place to slow downn is on the priorities of the more important aspects of your life.

    Cherry picking elements that work without sacrificing your way of living is a beautiful way to put it.

    @ Rahul

    I know what you mean … I see way too many people doing the wrong things faster and then catching themselves and stepping back, and looking for meaning and better ways to focus their time and energy on what they want out of life.

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