“Slow Down to Speed Up.” Really? This could not have happened in the Super Bowl, you say?


In our book, The Art of the Nudge, we share that all of us will be more successful and effective in our lives if we “slow down to speed up.” We believe that this principle of slowing down to speed up is particularly important in today’s fast-paced and harried society – a social, digital world bombarded by mobile inputs. Because we are “always on,” it can feel like we are just reacting to the next thing that comes our way.

Does this happen often? Does this happen to everyone? Does this matter?

I ask this because from time to time I get push-back on this idea of slowing down… “Come on dude, that sounds nice, but I have 300 unanswered emails, along with texts and social media alerts coming in constantly, not to mention responding to everything quickly. You have to move fast to survive.”

Okay, so this is the real world too. We are busy, surrounded by technology, and feel like we need to keep up with it all. But what if you are doing something really significant? Do you race around responding to all that is happening, or do you do something entirely different? My personal experience tells me that we act with a sense of purpose. When I attempt to tackle something really important, I am usually in the “flow,” with a sense of focus and calmness that allows me to observe, do the right thing, and just somehow “know.” Afterwards, I realize that I slowed down to get there.

This past Sunday night, Gary Kubiak’s Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl Championship. It was a story book ending for Peyton Manning, Wade Phillips, and John Elway (the only quarterback yet to retire after winning the Super Bowl). However, it was also a lesson in change and taking a different path. Every other big game won by Peyton Manning would have been riddled with his stats: touchdown throws, yards scored rushing, and scrambles. Not this time. And Peyton had to “slow down” to let this happen. This was Defense, plain and simple. Two previously fired Head Coaches, Kubiak and Phillips, changed the Denver Offensive and Defensive Strategy. They did not rely on their big strong Superman Quarterback to become the hero. Instead they built a defensive powerhouse in Miller, Ware, and Jackson. They asked the offense to play defensive ball; not take chances, and above all, not allow for risky mistakes. Instead, “grind,” “slow down,” and let the defense create the opportunities. Let Ware, Miller, and Jackson contain Cam and give Denver good field position. Well, it played out miraculously and I’m sure much has and will be written about the heroes of this story.

One thing that startled me was Kubiak’s response to a reporter’s question. The reporter asked what Kubiak learned as an assistant coach from Harbaugh in Baltimore last year. Kubiak’s answered that last year was a chance for him to step back and observe. Slow down. Yes, he had been a head coach, and yes he can learn. He saw that Coach Harbaugh had a game plan that he let unfold. Everyone trained on their role, knew it well, and played to the best of their ability. Harbaugh did not over manage but instead, let the training and team’s motivation drive the outcome. Kubiak’s answer confirms to me that we are giving good advice, and if heeded, this advice can create some unbelievable results. Kubiak went on to share the real piece of wisdom, which was that if he connected with his players in a more meaningful way, they would just get it done.

So here is a fired Head Coach, who takes an assistant job. He gets another chance at a head coaching position and plays the game differently, even with one of the best offensive quarterbacks in history. He slows the offense down, and teaches them to rely on the defense. He spends enough time connecting with his players to really make sure they see the big picture and are personally motivated to achieve. I’d say that it worked out pretty well for Denver on Sunday, but it took human efforts to lead and execute the change. Good work and congratulations Broncos!

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