I know physics governs the incessant universe; that Newton wrote the three laws of motion of which I remember only the third because it sounds like a haiku; and that Einstein had a troubled first marriage. Those three insightful facts sum up my authority of physics. And I’ve pulled along just fine.
But then there are times when you hear a word you last heard when you were a kid and it makes you all nostalgic: a la, “reproductive system.”
Last week, I heard one such word:
Our lives are more speed and less velocity. They don’t have a directional component. Because speed doesn’t care about direction. It’s about movement, however aimless.
Speed has gained a unique kind of stardom in the last few years. Its effects have been glorified so much we have forgotten to find the real cause.
Because there is none. Because it’s an illusion. It masquerades the fact that you have no idea why you are doing what you are doing.
And this is most of us. We operate with speed. Because it’s the virtue that’s noticeable. Most often, rewarded.
When you stop to ask yourself how much of what you are doing actually matters, you will find most of it is invariably useless. You pull down the speed blinds to avoid watching the existential meltdown that’s your life.
At some point, you will realize you are doing several useless things, very fast. Move fast and break things, sure. But what if you are breaking all the wrong things. That’s the making of a maniac.
Velocity is speed with reason. It’s deliberate. Without a direction, it ceases to be. Velocity slows you down. Makes you conscious. The difference between speed and velocity is the difference between man and machine. Why are you even afraid of the machines taking over when you are living their lives?
Speed makes you lose your way. Before you know, you are heading with great speed in the wrong direction.
The reason the difference is important now is that speed has become a modern leadership dictum. And it’s turning the business world into one large food-chain of meaninglessness.
It’s easy to disillusion yourself with the idea that speed is what’s giving you all the results when the truth is speed is only creating more (useless) work for you and is keeping you away from noticing the uselessness of it all. A generation of speedy nitwits even gave this a fancy name: Hustle.
The modern version of the hare and the tortoise is the difference between speed and velocity. The hare’s a ball of speed, anxiety, and hustle. Not to mention, its unimpressive unceasing ability to shit all over the place making life difficult for everyone.
The tortoise despite its pace has a great sense of direction. Which is pretty profound when you think about it and which is why I dedicated the essay to them. Not the mention, it helps them avoid the shit.
The wisest part of the tale is how the tortoise didn’t really care a hoot about the hare’s speed. Like an idiot, it bothered to actually finish the race. And win. You brilliant creep.
Speed is self-defeating, and we are all such reproductive organ[s] when it comes to being purposeful. We will fight ourselves just to stay busy believing that’s what being purposeful means. Speed can make you numb. Velocity is what wakes you up.
It doesn’t matter who is faster. You go. Go finish.