Sometimes we have to slow down to go faster,” was the advice I gave my nine-year-old son, Vance, the other day–and advice that I need to take myself. This advice can be applied both mentally and physically. For instance, Vance is a super bright kid and was blessed to inherit his father’s photographic memory, at least it appears that way since his drawings have such incredible detail. I don’t think at his age there is any other explanation for that. But unfortunately at times we can be our own worst enemies no matter how smart we are. He is an A student but brings home the occasional B in a subject here and there, and that’s mainly because he is going to fast when taking tests. He brought home a few bad papers in a row and I was aghast. What had happened to my little man?
I went in and had a talk with his teacher, who didn’t seem the least bit concerned that he had gotten a few D’s on his worksheets, me on the other hand was dying inside. I was a straight A student and so was his dad, if he came home with a C on a report card I would certainly look at that as failure on my part because I know how smart he is.
“It’s because he is rushing,” the teacher said with a smile. “It’s his age and all the kids are doing it. They think that the first one done is the smartest.”
When we went home that evening I sat down with Vance and explained that just because you are the one to get to the finish line first doesn’t mean you are the smartest.
“Well, Stephanie is always done first and she thinks she’s the smartest.”
“Does she make straight A’s all the time?” I asked him.
“No, she get’s B’s too.”
“Does what she get’s on her report card, whether it’s all A’s or all F’s effect what you get on your report card?”
“No.” he answered.
His teacher had gone on to tell me that she wasn’t worried about this grades, she knew that he had already learned all the skills in Math and that he just wasn’t applying them. So that night I got out his bad papers and I rewrote them on fresh paper and made Vance do all of the problems over. He got them all right this time except for one. It made me feel a million times better knowing his teacher was right and he did know what he was doing, but also frustrated that I didn’t address the issue sooner as a parent. He ended up with a B in Math, which I can live with, but more importantly I got my point across to him. I want him to know that when you rush you miss opportunities to correct yourself and you also miss attention to details. He doesn’t rush when he draws–he takes his time and creates masterpieces.
Last year handwriting was his weak subject. And once again he was rushing to get it done. He wasn’t dotting his I’s or crossing his T’s. I looked at him one day and said, “What? A B in Handwriting? Vance, you have no excuse buddy, you are an artist. You can make that pencil go whatever way you want it to. You have the ability to have the best handwriting in the class.” And from that day on his handwriting changed and now he has beautiful penmanship.
Sometimes situations just need a little tweak and are much easier to fix than we think, and sometimes we just need to slow down to get ahead. And other times we just need to believe in ourselves a little (or a lot) more. Physically I have found this with running. I’ve been trying to run for ten years now and every year I re-injure my knees (from a car accident I had when I was eighteen.) I do the same thing every time, I increase my speed and I start getting such bad knee pain that I give up and say, “I just wasn’t meant to be a runner.”
Well, I think I’m wrong. The past few weeks I have been trying a few other strategies. First I have slowed down! I don’t care how fast I’m going, I’m just going for distance—NOT SPEED! I ran a total of 21 miles in eight days, and guess what? Not one pain!! And in that there was a six-mile-run and a seven-mile-run (non-stop). Never in my life did I ever think I would see that. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to do it, but I don’t care.
One the longer runs I found myself asking myself why I want this so bad? Is it to run fast and beat other people? No. Is it to succeed at mind over matter and conquer something that has been conquering me for the last decade? Yes.
So with my new mindset to slow down, and new found belief in myself that with patience I can succeed at running longer distances, I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and the time with myself. It’s somewhat meditating really. I think being consistent with taking it slow and stretching properly that with time I will have just slowed down enough to build up the muscles around my knees and will be able to go a little faster in the future.