Slowpoke (noun) :
Largely considered a nuisance here in the U.S, as they go against everything aggressive, speedy and “American.”
There’s probably one in each of your classes, and they’re always the last to turn in their test. There’s one in every family, who’s never ready when it’s time to leave. And they’re always in front of you in line, turning a simple Starbucks order into a five-minute struggle between a frappacino and a latte. (Then they probably change their mind mid-order).
Sadly, I’m guilty. On all three charges.
I’m a certified slowpoke—slow at everything from doing homework and household chores to brushing my teeth. My family says I’ve surpassed Grandma as the slowest eater on the planet, which is quite a feat. I suppose it’s the end of her 50-year era, and the start of my own.
So naturally when it comes to my work, I’m the same way. Slow as a tortoise.
There are two general causes for slowness. One is just laziness, the other is rare breed of Type-A personalities (that’s me). I’m very thorough and methodical, thus I prefer to take my time. You could call me a planner with a perfectionist streak. My biggest enemies are timed tests and sudden deadlines. I just dislike being rushed.
I know what you’re thinking… My disposition does not sound very compatible to PR. Afterall this is an industry that’s centered around immediacy, deadlines and unforseen crises, right?
Don’t think this hasn’t crossed my mind once or twice while I’ve been deciding what to do with the rest of my life. It’s important to think about the demands of your profession and whether you’ll be able to meet them on a daily basis.
But there’s something most people don’t know about Type-A slowpokes: There’s only one thing they love more than ample time, details and control, and that’s a challenge.
Let’s say I’m at work, and my boss gives me an hour to complete an assignment that usually takes me two hours. As she’s explaining the deadline, my heart skips a beat. How on earth am I going to be able to finish on-time?
To jerk me out of my everyday, leisurely pace, there has to be some sort of stimulus. When I’m taking a test, it’s the five-minute warning. At home, it’s my dad telling me I have 20 minutes to be showered, packed and in the car. Or it’s the end-of-day announcement that Starbucks is now closing (Noooo!).
It sets in a state of panic, and the consequences of failure become my motivation. The fear of failing my test drives me to knock out the last 10 questions. The worry of missing the family beach vacation (and the wrath of Mr. Punctual) ensures that my tushy is downstairs in the car, with wet hair and a purse full of clothes. And I make a snap decision on the non-fat mocha latte. Otherwise, I get no coffee at all, and that would be tragic.
When I’m at work, that stimulus is a deadline.
As my boss leaves my office, I catch my breath. The consequences of not completing my assignment would include failing to do my job and displeasing my employer (and I can’t let those things happen). And just like all the panic-striken senarios above, the challenge flips a switch, and I pour all my concentration into that small time frame. Each time I begin to drift back into my leisurely pace, I make myself work a little faster, focus a little harder. And somehow, I get it done without a second to spare.
At that point I may have to slap myself across the face and slow my heart rate back down, but the result is that I finished. I did my job, and my boss is happy. And I know that in just a few short minutes, someone will give me another deadline that starts the process all over again. That’s just the nature of the job.
In all honesty, I’ve come to find that this is the best situation for me. The daily ins-and-outs of public relations are like the whip on my horse’s behind. I’ve discovered that when I’m pushed outside my comfort zone, is when I can deliver my best work. And when I’m doing that, I’m happy.
I’ve just shared the slowpoke formula for survival. (And hopefully success)
Lesson Learned: As long as this industry promises to keep challenging me, I think I’ll be just fine.
Reflections: I mean, really, who can make a quick decision at Starbucks? I don’t feel bad about that one.