About fifteen years ago, I met Jeff Rouse, an Olympic Gold Medalist and World record holder in the 100 meter backstroke. I interviewed him about his success, not just as a swimmer, but also as a person. Almost everyone I’ve talked to who knew Jeff told me what a great guy he was. He was one of the first of over 600 world class performers I’ve interviewed since then. We became great friends and he went on to win two more gold medals in Atlanta.
While everyone I interviewed has their own unique story, some of these people had something very special to share with me, something I will always remember, things I always go back to when I work with people seeking my help.
Jeff told me about Easy Speed. Easy Speed is going 100% of your maximum speed while exerting what feels like 80% of effort. I’ve heard great golfers use this exact same equation. I’ve seen heart surgeons, writers, musicians exhibit this easy speed in their work as well. I have come to believe it is how we are designed by Nature. But Jeff named it for me.
I will be starting a new blog called Easy Speed on wordpress (http://easyspeed.wordpress.com) to go back to my roots. I will continue to do this blog where I can be more big picture. When Jeff described Easy Speed to me, we got in an argument because he said to me it happens by accident. Not knowing much about swimming or about him, I challenged him. “I can teach you to train for Easy Speed,” I told him. He wasn’t pleased.
My blog Easy Speed will be focused on this, teaching people about Easy Speed, no matter what they do. I hope you will check it out. I will make my first post early next week.
But I am fascinated by Nature, by its design. What Jeff did for me was explain something to me I’d been watching on the Outer Banks– the Easy Speed of pelicans. the pelicans fly along the coast surfing the wind in the curl of the waves about to break. On film, they appear to be motionless, subtle movements only as they feel the wind. Easy speed. Charles Lindbergh once said:
“Building an airplane is easier than the evolutionary process of the flight of a bird. I’d rather be around birds.”
I keep this in mind when I work with people, especially when I watch them perform. Easy speed is nature unleashed doing what it is meant to do. I thank Jeff everyday for telling me about it.
But my heart is breaking watching the calamity in the Gulf. Brown pelicans covered in oil.
I can’t help but think about the difference between easy speed and pulling a fast one, taking shortcuts, dishonesty. We’ve been hit with too many of the people overseeing our institutions taking shortcuts. I can only think they have never experienced easy speed. If they had, they would never choose its opposite.
So I am recommitting to share easy speed with the world as best I can. I know how to teach it to people who want to learn it. I am tired of shortcuts. I’ve never seen a look in the eyes of people pulling fast ones like I have of the people experiencing easy speed, amazed at how easy speed can be.
I made a video of my time with Jeff, of his experience learning to train for easy speed and will share clips of him on the new blog. I hope you will invite me into your world to share and interact, and like many people do, challenge me. To quote a professional hockey player I am currently working with “That sounds too easy.”
The content will be on how to understand and achieve easy speed no matter what you do, using the interviews of the performers I’ve talked with over the years and seeking new people to talk to. In a sense, this will be the first “how to” project I have undertaken publicly. I hope you will join the conversation.
For those of you who have visited this blog from Ted Spiker’s marathon virgin, I cannot promise to be as funny or enlightening as Ted is, but I hope to engage you with the idea of easy speed.
I’ll close with this. Easy speed demands, no, is the definition, of doing work. It is mastery, not a shortcut. As the philosopher Gademer said:
“Relaxation is not the lack of effort, merely the absence of tension.”