Beyond the Build


Slow and Steady (Usually) Wins the Race

I’ve recently been working on a project with one of our customers. Everyone is in a hurry to complete the submittal before a real estate committee meeting. All parties are doing their best with limited time, trying to meet the deadline. There has been a lot of stress in the process. Sound familiar?

Last week, we had a 10-hour session to finalize details. At the end of the day, we were tired but we came to our senses. Why are we rushing? The committee submittal date was in a few days and we wanted to get this approved, but we were talking about decisions that would impact the project for decades. There is never a second chance to get things done correctly the first time.

We decided it was better to take one step back, pause and ensure we had our details clear and correct. We would wait for 60 days until the next real estate committee.

Because everyone needs projects, these types of decisions seem even more difficult in recessions. It’s easy to get in the heat of things and think of business as a sprint, but it’s really more of a marathon. Slow and steady usually wins the race.

I came across this article from Fast Company describing what they term the “two steps forward, one step back” philosophy. I see a correlation to new business proposals. A few takeaways:

  • No matter how hard you are peddling to get projects, take time to “stretch your legs,” ensuring you’re on the right map. Sometimes, a step back brings more clear vision through the fog.
  • Get honest feedback. Make sure those around you are strong enough to voice opinions no matter which way the wind is blowing.
  • Ask yourself, “What have I missed that I will regret later?” Identify the gaps. When a little more time is taken, they can be closed. This is not just for getting the job, but for real, honest-to-goodness, long term success.
  • Remember resiliency. Nothing is easy and not everything goes according to plan. While you’re taking a deep breath, sort out plan A, then think a plan B and even a plan C.

Sure, there are times when you’ve got to make those quick decisions. But many more times, they can wait. Learning the difference is important.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.