Walk, Don’t Run

Walk, Don't Run

Early in my career as a diplomat, a more senior Foreign Service Officer gave me an interesting piece of advice.  He said that when you are working as the "control officer" (they person responsible for handling the visit of a VIP), you should never run in any situation, no matter how urgent or worrying.  Stay calm, walk, and deal with what has come up.  (Of course, in some life threatening situation, running might be appropriate.)

I never did run when shepherding around the scores of VIPs I had to deal with over the years, and it was good advice.

But I think this advice has a much broader application than my colleague intended.

Just Keep Moving Ahead (Walking), Day After Day

To me, in general, we get much farther in life if we walk steadily rather than try to sprint or hurl ourselves in one direction or another.  But here is the key: just keep walking, day in and day out, keep moving in a positive direction.  Keep learning skills.  Keep dating till you find someone.  Keep writing, till you publish (and beyond).  Keep singing till you love your song.

If you run, you will become short of breath, stop, and lose momentum.  Indeed, Aesop recognized this truth when he wrote the fable of the tortoise and the hare two and a half millennia ago.

Steady application over time (the long, steady walk) builds massive, solid, real skills.  It's the difference between a person who lifts weights over a long stretch of time and develops deep muscle strength vs. a person who picks up a set of weights and attempts to sprint through a challenging lift and tears muscle and ligament.


Steady Steps vs. Panicky Moves

Walk, Don't Run also means, in effect, don't panic.  Don't lurch at something in fear. Panicky moves can get people hurt.

So just keep walking.  You will travel immense distances if you embrace this practice.

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