Learning at the Speed of Change

I drove over 300 miles yesterday. Up to Los Angeles in the morning to meet one client and back to San Diego in the afternoon to meet another. It’s not a schedule I’d like to make a habit of but time on the road has its advantages. Phone calls and podcasts are welcome companions. This morning in the quiet stillness of a more typical day it’s remarkable to me that I could have so easily covered that much distance just a day ago.

In the pre-railroad 1800’s intrepid families heading west covered 10-20 miles a day in horse-drawn wagons. You can walk faster than that! It must have been exhilarating, even at such a modest pace, to be headed into the unknown but they weren’t exactly racing there. And perhaps that’s worth thinking about.

At 15 miles per hour the early settlers probably noticed an awful lot of detail about their surroundings as they plodded along. In the slow rhythm of their progress they had plenty of time to consider both the possibilities and pitfalls of their endeavor. At 75 mph I noticed many other cars, the freeway, the Pacific Ocean, Orange County, Los Angeles County and the Hollywood sign. I saw my alma mater on the hill and noticed a plane taking off from LAX. I took in a macro perspective while the incalculable details of everyday life were lost on me.

If the journey is toward a richer inner life, a more astute personal awareness, we’re best served by establishing our own speed limit. Am I advocating that we slow down, cover less ground and take more in? I suppose so, yes. And not just because that’s a healthy and necessary antidote to the seduction of an otherwise punishing pace. My notion is that the internal journey – the frontier conversation with ourselves – is not very inviting, nor is it really even possible at more than a wagon’s pace. The idea of racing towards deeper understanding implies that we would only see the landmarks, the obvious and impossible to miss truths about who we are. While they are important they only represent the beginning of the conversation, a natural place to start. I saw the Hollywood sign but I don’t know anything more about Hollywood.

Your local flavor, the parts of you that need to be seen if they are to be understood, require a different pace, one that is in service of a deeper kind of knowing.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

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