Monday, 26 March 2012


“It’s not how fast you are down the straights it’s how skilfully and sparingly you use the brakes” said Lawrie Philpott about Formula 1 in a conversation which amongst other things praised the engineering skills at the various British sites for F1 engine development.

And being about to take a week off, this week (so I really shouldn’t be writing this) I started thinking about our default mode of living in 2012 – very fast if you want to survive, and the need for pausing every now and again.

The faster I drove as a thrusting young executive the more I shunted cars – “you’re the Emerson Fittipaldi of road safety” a colleague observed whereas all my role models people like  Stuart Rose or Paul Walsh look as though they have plenty of time on their hands – like Fred Couple’s golf swing – loping and easy.
I turned as one does to Mark “aphorism” Twain. He said in his travel book “The Innocents Abroad”
“In America, we hurry--which is well; but when the day's work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business cares to bed with us...we burn up our energies with these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and mean old age at a time of life which they call a man's prime in Europe...What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!”


And this was 1869. What would he say today?

All the best work on creativity aided by recent neurological studies suggest it’s what happens when we aren’t doing something that has the great impact on it’s being solved and getting done.

We think our best when just going off to sleep.

We win races when we’re braking.

So here’s my plan which drives my colleagues crazy.

I switch off my mobile and leave it in a drawer. I turn off my PC. I don’t answer the phone. I don’t read the paper. My wife and I sleep, read, eat, go on trips to art galleries, old churches, look at great scenery walking by rivers and dream a lot.

This may be the hardest I’ve worked all year.

And the most skilful braking.

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