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Slow Down To Do More: “What would you do if you had 30 years to live?” with Don Scott and Chaya Weiner

We’ve all heard the question: What would you do if you had three months to live? That’s interesting. Here is a better question. What would you do if you had 30 years to live? Would you choose to fritter away one-third of it living an overstressed and inefficient live. Longing for the day you can […]

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We’ve all heard the question: What would you do if you had three months to live? That’s interesting. Here is a better question. What would you do if you had 30 years to live? Would you choose to fritter away one-third of it living an overstressed and inefficient live. Longing for the day you can retire and play more golf and watch your money carefully. A lot of people live exactly that. Sounds like a really bad idea to me. So, I have engineered my work life, plans, and way of being in way that keeps me out of that rat race. You have a lot more power and control in your job, business, and life, right now, than you realize.

As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Don Scott, The Business Leader Coach, working with owners and leaders of substantial privately-held companies. He is a former Arthur Andersen partner, with 19 years there. In the next leg of his career, he was instrumental in building and running a billion dollar trust company operation. Don brings the unique combination of 35 years of business experience with a Master’s degree in psychology. He helps clients find clarity, and transform their businesses, careers, and lives in powerful ways.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up poor, in a place where expectations were low. I didn’t enroll in college until I was 20, but then completed my four-year degree in two years flat. I was driven. My personal boundaries were tight and confining. I worked, struggled, succeeded, fell down, and got back up. I was profoundly gifted at doing things the hard way. If the school of hard knocks gave a diploma, mine would have reached from floor to ceiling.

When I was about 50, I had an epiphany. I had always thought I would succeed my way out of my problems. It hit me like a ton of bricks, standing in front of my very nice desk, in my very nice study, in my very nice home. I was going to run out of time. And that none of that “stuff” meant didley squat. The trajectory of my life changed in ways I could not have imagined and 
 I discovered how to help other “partially successful” people create that same magic in their lives.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

Somebody’s lying! 😊 Those figures are way too low! At least among business people and professionals. People with “demanding” jobs. Mothers and families with kids, sports, schools, activities. That covers a huge slice of society. My observation is it is the rare person who isn’t rushed and trying to do too much. I think it has been that way for a long time, and overall it is getting worse. A great deal has been shaped in the ’80s and ’90s. Especially in America, many of us got to that same place I once was personally: Trying to succeed my way out of my problems. I just couldn’t run fast enough. Fast forward, technology is a curse and a blessing. We produce four times as much in only twice the time! The world is just a lot more complex than it was 30 or 40 years ago.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Imagine you are a senior leader in your business. You are very capable. Creative when you have a chance. You are always slammed. I will guarantee you are sub-optimized in so many ways it would take a full day to flesh out the list. If you are always focused on those most burning priorities, those obvious must does, what game-changers are laying around in the back of your mind? Those that will never see the light of day. Health — look at obesity, or just overweight 50-year-olds. See the tension in half the faces hunched over computers in Starbucks. How many business executives can go on vacation and just “be” peacefully, joyfully, present in the moment? Without working, thinking about work, worry about work? Many have never had that experience. They don’t even know what they are missing, and they are missing a great deal.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

Most people struggle with this concept because they don’t really have context. They are thinking: I am barely surviving chasing around as fast as I can chase? So, they hear a message, read a book, make a real “commitment” to themselves, and slow down for about three days. They have to learn to think about it, and life, entirely different. If they do, it will become clear and indisputable. Here is my example, about myself. I was 30 years old, a career guy at Arthur Andersen. A radical business developer. Some might have even said frantic. I chased so much and so hard, all the time. I did generate a lot of new business, made partner, and accomplished most of what I wanted. But it was a hollow victory, that I could not sustain. Today, by slowing down and coming at it from a different place, I am quite sure I can create three times as much with one-third the energy burn.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Little tricks and gimmicks tend to not work for long. Trying to change a strategy for outside activities, without changing the inside programming driving it all, is a fools journey. So, I will start from there. I…

1. Decided I no longer wanted to live my life that way. I literally had an awakening, in a particular moment I can see right now like a picture on the wall. That was the beginning.

2. Committed. To a body of work that would change me forever. I didn’t understand, commit, do all the work, or experience the growth, all at once. But I committed, and I started.

3. Learned. I worked with my own coach, Stephen McGhee. Stephen said to me once. “You are always trying to get from someplace. What if there is no place to get from, and from ‘no place’ you can go anywhere?” A bit of a riddle. Deep to be sure. Was a game-changer for me.

4. Engineered. We’ve all heard the question: What would you do if you had three months to live? That’s interesting. Here is a better question. What would you do if you had 30 years to live? Would you choose to fritter away one-third of it living an overstressed and inefficient live. Longing for the day you can retire and play more golf and watch your money carefully. A lot of people live exactly that. Sounds like a really bad idea to me. So, I have engineered my work life, plans, and way of being in way that keeps me out of that rat race. You have a lot more power and control in your job, business, and life, right now, than you realize.

5. Follow a daily process. Meditation and a lot more. For me, it’s about a half hour every morning. I set my day up for success. And, I avoid rushing around like the plague. I like to say “The most stressful thing in my life is figuring out what to order off of a menu.”

6. Use my own power. I would rather show up in a powerful way. From a clear, peaceful, and powerful place. I would rather have one conversation that changes someone’s life, than six that only scratch the surface.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Mindfulness, in its most basic form, is being present and at peace. Nothing more complicated than that. I worked with a particular business owner client for exactly one year. During that year, he doubled the size of his business. And, as he says, set it up to double again the next year. He told me repeatedly, and then kept coming back to in his testimonial at the end, the big thing was his learning to live in the present. He really emphasized how dramatic and important living in the present was for him. And, almost as an afterthought, that it had played extremely well in his business results. He doubled his business, but values much more how he now walks through life differently.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

The morning process I mentioned above is mission critical. Another concept from Ron and Mary Hulnick, of the University of Santa Monica, is truly life changing. “My reaction to the problem is the problem.” That is, if we can feel that reaction, that upset, be it tension, anger, or whatever, and just hit pause. School is in session. Then, take steps to clear it and come into the present.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

Mindfulness is about changing the way we think. That in turn changes the way we feel. And, of course, the way we feel points us back to what we are thinking. So, how do you become aware and shift the way you think? Tools? Journaling is a great one. Affirmations are another. Just one affirmation that has real power, and that you can use to anchor in your work. Setting clear intentions is another.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices?

www.mindfulness.org is a good website. Loyalty to Your Soul, by Ron and Mary Hulnick is a must read. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz is another good one. Those books are not about mindfulness specifically, or exclusively. They are bigger. My friend Ginny Castleberry does some good work in this area. [email protected]

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that is relevant to you in your life?

I will repeat the one that Stephen McGhee shared with me some years ago. “What if there is no place to get from, and from ‘no place’ you can go anywhere?” That helped me realize that wherever I am is simply where I am. That I can be congruent with that place. Not ignoring it or fighting against it. And, from there I can create anything I want.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m tired of doing it the hard way. I think I will just choose, right now, to buy into the notion that I can keep everything good in my life, and have more of it. I can let go of those things that don’t serve me. I can live in the present, in peace and joy. I choose. Now, I am ready to do the work and discover how.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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