Flow Slow

Many people, during many times, and in many place want to do something-something great, something of much benevolence. As men, that “something great”, among many other endevours, comes down to either building a business, fighting a war, or growing a family. All of those are good. And so we get started. We get excited. We start telling people about it. We get going as fast as we can. And then we hit a road block, we face a challenge we’ve never faced before, we come upon a problem we don’t know the solution too, we need to climb a mountain that we’re un prepared to climb, we see greener pastures and greater promises of comfort in the distant horizon. So we dropped what we started and start the process over again.

Why? Why do we start something and don’t finish? Do we not believe that finishing what one starts is a good habit to build? Why do we quit? Why do we continue to believe that if I quit this project, I won’t quit the next one?

Those are just some questions for you to ponder about because what I want to talk about are potential solutions to the fact that this happens. My goal will not be to answer the why but rather to help refocus your attention and encourage you to solve the problem: to build, fight, and grow. There are two principles I want to expound on.

Flow

The first principle is one called flow. I first came across the idea of flow working in and helping build a manufacturing line. Most modern manufacturing companies do batch work: make a pile, eliminate a pile. This is the idea of inventory. This is the idea of having a pile of unfinished somethings in a pile.

However, there is a different approach to manufacturing. This is sometimes called “Lean” or “Just-In-Time” but really it comes from TPS, “Toyota Production Systems.” I’m not an expert on this and have only tasted a few drops of this Kool Aid, but I certainly have seen steps of progress using this strategy. One of the pillars of TPS is “Flow”.

Flow refers to not stopping. It refers to a steady stream of something. It refers to consistency, reliability, and predictability. A river has flow. The growth of our finger nails has flow. My hair is falling out steadily; it has flow. Jiu-jitsu, art, music, creation, ecosystems, seasons, time: it all has flow. It flows. It keeps moving steadily forward. It doesn’t stop and it has direction.

Flow requires one to redesign your work to cut back the amount of idle time inventory is sitting in one place. You want to get to a point where you don’t have an item, project, or idea sitting idle without anyone working on it. The reason we get bottlenecked is because we have too much inventory going on. We’re trying to do more than we can handle, which is also referred to as over-production: the mother of all wastes. But the key to creating flow, is for it to be part of your culture. Having SWIP instead of WIP is what you want to get to. Having flow be part of what you do, rather than a one time occurrence. This must become, what many call a life-style: it’s the way things are done.

This is hard to do.

Slow

It’s easier to do flow, when you go slow. Slow should be easy to understand, but in fact it isn’t. I’d say it’s easy to agree with, but hard to understand because we, and by we I mean I, have many times been hasty and more like the hare.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. (Prov 13:11)

We like to call our age The Information Age, and many call themselves teachers of wealth building. There are many online courses that offer easy solution to your money problems. Copywriting is everywhere over social media. “Edutainment” is the coined term for fun learning. We feel less guilty paying for education than entertainment so edutainment is an easy way out. The typical online wealth creation courses seem to be more motivational hype talks. On the other hand, if you actually go through with the steps, I do believe you’ll eventually get some traction.

The problem is that we set our expectations to reaching the top of the mountain in a week. We were told that “it’s simple but not easy”, but we took it took mean “it’s a piece of cake, you can make money in your sleep.” After starting the marathon, we realize it’s actually much harder and will take longer than we’d like and requires more cardio than we have in our wallet.

If you do come across one of those courses, such as helping people do social media marketing, know that it will take longer than you are told, and will require more upfront capital than you are told. Also, you might feel weird and uncomfortable doing what you paid to learn to do because it’s something new.

So my recommendation would be to start with what you know first and then consider branching out to one of those other endeavors. Start with the unsexy option. Know what you can handle and the size of your plate. When you go slow, it is easier to overcome the road blocks and the speed bumps that come up. It’s easier to create flow and you’re less likely to get discourage.

The tortoise always wins. Below is a video to prove the point.

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