The divine middle

At Lessonly, when it comes to pace, we picture a stick-shift car with five gears. We aim to spend most of our time in third gear. 

Too much time in first or second gear and we go too slowly—urgency is lost and energy is low. Too much time in fourth or fifth gear and we run too hot—agitation rises, clear thinking gets harder. In third gear, we are moving—not too slow and not too fast.

Are there times when we will shift into fourth or fifth gear? Yes, every gear has a time and place. We may do so when an issue arises and a plan needs course correction _right away._ But we should not live this way. Spending too much time in fourth or fifth gear is a recipe for exhaustion and burnout. If a team is frequently in the high gears, it may be a sign that a manager is struggling to commit to a strategy or prioritize their team’s workload. Everything cannot be done at once. Everything cannot be a priority.

Will we ever downshift to first or second gear? Heck yes we will. When confusion reigns, we should slow down, bring people together to talk—see if we can sort it out. When we’ve finished a big project or closed out a quarter, we should make time to breathe, to celebrate together, to reflect. These are beautiful, healthy practices. They nourish and strengthen us.

We should also make time to turn the car off—let our minds wander, get a good night’s rest, enjoy weekends and vacations.

Between the two extremes of off and frantic is the divine middle—third gear. I like it there.


P.S. Massive thank you to my friend and teammate Andrew Robinson III for inspiring this concept.

This is Max’s note—an every-so-often message from Lessonly’s CEO about learning, leadership, and Better Work. Sign up below to subscribe via email. No spam, we promise!

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