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Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push was part of the series of Live 8 concerts held around the world designed to encourage the leaders congregating at the G8 meeting to consider the plight of those in absolute poverty (see Make Poverty History). Held on 6 July 2005, four days after the other concerts, at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, it coincided with the opening day of the 31st G8 Summit and rally in the city centre marking the end of the Long Walk to Justice.

The event is also referred to as "Live 8 Edinburgh" and "Live 8 Scotland".

Tickets were allocated by a text lottery. As with the Hyde Park Live 8 concert it overran its official finishing time.

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  • Carl Honoré | Feb. 5, 2013 | Appel Salon | Part 1 | Full Episode


[pause] Michael Enright: Thank you. Good evening. How does a notion become a concept, and then a trend, and then a force, and finally a world-wide movement. Well, it helps immeasurably to have an expert proselytizer who understands the concept and has the ability to spread the good news around the world. In other words, it helps to have someone like Carl Honore. Now though he may cringe at the title, I think Mr. Honore is the world's leading evangelist for what has become known as "The Slow Movement". But in spreading the gospel of 'slow', he is not suggesting for a moment that we all do everything in our lives at a snail's pace. Simply, that we all stop living our lives on a constant fast forward. ME: His first book 'In Praise of Slow' galvanized international interest in changing the way we live. His next book was called 'Under Pressure' and it critically examined how we parents are micro-managing our children's lives. Now with his latest book, 'The Slow Fix' Mr. Honore shows how changing our neurotic relationship to time can change our lives for the better. Mr. Honore was born in Scotland, but he grew up in Edmonton, which he claims as his real hometown. He was graduated from the University of Edinburgh with degrees in history and Italian. He has worked with street children in Brazil, with Canada World Youth, and he has travelled and reported internationally for leading newspapers and magazines. Currently he lives in London with his wife and two children. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Carl Honore. [applause] Carl Honore: Thanks very much. ME: Thank you for joining us, for coming. CH: Thank you for that very generous introduction. ME: Did you come all the way from Edmonton and how cold was it there? CH: I'm going to Edmonton and I'm guessing that it's very cold already. It's a safe bet. ME: I want to start with how you first became aware of, and then got involved with, The Slow Movement. It has to do with something about you reading, your reading your son a bedtime story. What was that? CH: That's right. I, now we're going back to probably 10-11 years, I was working as a foreign correspondent and I had become a roadrunner. Every moment of my day was a race against the clock and that virus of hurry had infected every corner of my life including that sacred slow ritual of reading a bedtime story to my son. So I would go into his room at the end of the evening and I just could not slow down. So I would be sitting on his bed with one foot on the floor speed-reading Snow White, [laughter] skipping lines, paragraphs and whole pages. And in fact, I became an expert in a technique that I dubbed the "multiple page turn" technique. [laughter] CH: See I knew there were a lot of parents... [laughter] Rueful giggles. This went on for quite some time. We were constantly in conflict because my son, like every four-year-old, knew the books inside out. So what should have been the most relaxed, the most intimate, the most tender, the most magical moment of the day became instead a war between my speed and his slowness. ME: Didn't you find somewhere there was a one-minute bedtime... CH: Coming to it, I'm coming there. [laughter] ME: It's astounding. CH: And so we were constantly in conflict and my son would say, "Why are there only three dwarfs in the story tonight? [laughter] What happened to Grumpy?" And as you say, the moment of truth for me, the moment of personal epiphany came when I found myself speed-reading a newspaper article with time-saving tips. And one of these tips talked about this book called 'The One-Minute Bedtime Story'. In other words, Snow White boiled down into 60 seconds and I remember thinking "Hallelujah!" [laughter] CH: I'm going to get this from FedEx tomorrow from Amazon. But thankfully, I had a second reaction and it was the 'light bulb over the head' moment. I thought "Whoa, is it, has it really come to this? Am I really in such a hurry that I'm prepared to fob off my son with a sound byte at the end of the day. And that was when I began to look at my own addiction to speed. But as a writer, of course, I wanted to understand the bigger picture and I began travelling around the world and very quickly discovered that I wasn't alone and that there was another way to think about things like this. ME: It's encouraging to know that you were as addicted as the rest of us are, but what is the source of the addiction to speed? Why, why do we live the way we do in terms of hurry up? CH: I think there's a cocktail of reasons. I think partly... I think partly, it's human hard wiring. That we are programmed to seek out short-term thrills and rewards. If you think back to the Savannah, early man, there was not much incentive to sit back, stroke your chin, and contemplate the Aristotelian long view. It was just... It was the here and now. It was survival of the fastest. I think also there's a kind of metaphysical dimension that speed, in a way, becomes an instrument of denial. CH: It's a way of running away from deeper questions and bigger problems and that's why therapists often talk about acceleration as being the final stage before burnout. You have one last surge of speed as you're running away from all those problems and then of course the industrial revolution which created machines that allowed us to do more and more things more quickly, and then we've had another great leap forward in the way of speed with the information technology revolution which has allowed everything to happen now at the speed of software and conditioned us to expect things to happen at the click of a mouse. ME: Let's just stay with the Savannah for a moment. There's some science as I understand it and, believe me, it's a very rude understanding, that in early times when man was confronted by a lion or something there wasn't a lot of time to discuss options. You just had to get the hell out of there. Is that where it comes from? CH: Exactly. Essentially, it's this idea... And any time you stray into the world of neuroscience you've got to stray carefully and tread lightly because we know so little, really, in the greater scheme of things. But I think we're getting to the point where we do know that there are, roughly speaking, two forms of thinking and people talk about 'system one' and 'system two'. And 'system one' is that instant, instinctive, intuitive shoot from the hip kind of reaction. You see the sabre-tooth tiger gazing at you across the pond, your brain instantly maps an escape course through the... You go, you're down at... Quick fix, done and dusted. CH: 'System two' is the more considered thought. When someone asks you what is 32 x 14 or when you're asked to contemplate what a social policy would mean for downtown Montreal. That's a different kind of mode of thought. So, clearly in the old days I think that the 'system one' was probably much more called upon and much more useful than it is today. The trouble is, of course, we have the same brains and we live in a world now where we need much more 'system two' thinking, we need much more slow thinking, but we're almost hardwired I think to reach first for the easy fix, the quick fix, the 'system one' approach. ME: I want to get at the 'system two' in a moment, but the quick fix, it's everywhere. It seems to infect, if that's the word, certainly influence or inform almost every area of our life. CH: It does. ME: Is there... In the book I read that there is a quick yoga, is that right? [laughter] CH: Yes. Even the things that are, by their very nature, slow and designed to slow us down, we're trying to speed them up too. So there is, in fact, near my house in London a gym that runs a speed yoga course. Speed yoga for time starved professionals who want to salute the sun and bend their bodies into the lotus position but they want to do it in 20 minutes instead of a whole hour. So... And in fact, even these deepest rituals that are all about slowing down, they have been infected by this virus of hurry as well. I was in Austrian Vienna a little while ago and I met the Monsignor who was in charge of one of the cathedrals in Vienna, a 1000-year-old cathedral, everything very, very serene, Gregorian chants. CH: And he came up to me after an event and said, I had been talking about slowing down, and he said to me, "You know, I have a confession to make", and any time a catholic priest comes up to you and says [laughter].. You're on your guard, right? [laughter] But thankfully, we didn't go down that road. He said, "I listened to you speaking and I suddenly realized how easy it is to get infected by this virus of hurry. I've been praying too fast." So, as you say, it shows that even in those activities, those tasks that are all about being still, contemplative, pondering, ruminating, we still want to go for that quick fix option. ME: It reminds me of Woody Allen saying that he had taken a speed reading course and had read War & Peace, and when asked about it, said "It's about Russia." [laughter] CH: Exactly, yeah. [laughter] ME: Isn't it though a worthy thing if, as a professional worker, to be able to do something quickly, efficiently, and in a proper way. If the boss says I want this report yesterday, what choice do I have? Isn't it something... It's a marketable skill, isn't it? CH: Well, the first part of your question, the answer is absolutely yes. Of course, it's useful to be efficient and quick and to do things within deadlines. And I talk about, my book is called "The Slow Fix" but that doesn't mean that we have to fix everything very, very slowly. Of course, there are times to fix things quickly. If you're in a restaurant and the diner at a nearby table starts choking on a morsel of food, again you don't sit back and convene a committee, you get in there and deliver the Heimlich maneouver, don't you? ME: Right. CH: Right? And that makes perfect sense. The trouble is it seems to me that culturally we've backed ourselves into a corner where we arrive at every problem, even the most tangled, multi-layered, complex problems looking for a Heimlich solution, right? Maximum return, fastest results with minimum effort. ME: What are the consequences of that, of acting like that and of thinking like that? What are the consequences to us? CH: I think that this roadrunner speedaholic culture is taking a toll on every aspect of our lives. I think it's back firing on our health and diet, on our relationships and communities. It's doing harm to our work and productivity and to the economy in general, the environment of course. Even if you think about fast decisions we were talking about a moment ago. You look at what happened in the financial markets in 2008 with that meltdown. A great deal of that I think comes down to the fact that money got too fast. That it was just too speedy for people to make good decisions. ME: Well, you talk in the book, in 'The Slow Fix' you talk about Bill Gates, Microsoft, and his laudable efforts in worldwide, in global health, and how he set up a programme to get it done fast. CH: And it's interesting that Bill Gates comes from that engine of speed, which is the Silicon Valley and all of that. And they come with this idea that somehow if you spend a lot of money and write really good algorithms, you can solve every problem very fast. And Bill Gates discovered, to his dismay, that that's not the case. He put out, I've forgotten the exact figure, it was something like 400 million. It was a huge amount of money was offered, tendered, thousands of projects came in. They picked up a bunch, and they were going to revolutionize world health, in five years. And then, five years later, they hadn't revolutionized world health. And he said... ME: And he admitted that. CH: He admitted that. His words were, "We were naive." ME: Tell me about the rise and fall of Toyota and, specifically, I never heard this before, "pulling the Andon rope." CH: It's a wonderful image and metaphor, and in fact, it was... I wanted to use it as the title of my book, but my publishers persuaded me that it was too obscure, so I went with 'The Slow Fix' in the end. But the story of Toyota is that, in fact, if you go back, Toyota was a supreme practitioner of the slow fix because they had this rope, they still do, from their factories, hanging in every factory called the Andon rope or the Andon chord. And if anything went wrong on an assembly line, even the lowliest worker could pull the Andon rope and a light would go on, and his team leader would come and they'd look at the problem and they would ask themselves, "Why, why, why," until they got to the heart of the matter, what was really wrong. CH: And then, they would fix it. And if they couldn't fix it on the spot, they would actually stop the whole assembly line, until they got it fixed. And that to me is the slow fix in action. But what happened when Toyota decided that they want to become the number one car maker in the world, is that effectively it stopped pulling the Andon rope. They began having problems and ignoring them. They were getting emails and memos sent up from staff on the ground and the trenches, warning of things going wrong that were just ignored, that weren't dealt with. And we all know where that ended up, don't we? ME: Largest recall in history. CH: Ten million cars recalled, shredded reputation and what was it, two billion in lawsuits pending? ME: Yeah. CH: And that's a quick fix gone wrong writ large. But wide across the culture you see examples of this, the Iraq war is a good one. When we were amassing troops on the border to go into Iraq in '03, was it Rumsfeld's fantasy said, "This will take Iraq in six days, six weeks at the most." Again, we know how that one ended. ME: Why is it important? You make a point that in trying to redevelop the quick fix or upholster your life in such a way you don't do that anymore. You said it's important to admit mistakes. And you used as an example a RAF pilot. What's the connection there, I didn't... CH: I think that admitting mistakes is often the first step to building a slow fix. Because... ME: How so? CH: Because when a problem presents itself, usually one of the reasons is that someone has made a mistake or something has gone wrong. And until we take the time to confront that mistake and deal with the emotional fallout that goes with the shame and the embarrassment that provokes, and then also take the time to learn from a mistake, then we can't really move on to developing a slow fix. So, this RAF example, the Royal Air Force in Britain, they discovered that a lot of the mistakes that people were making were just being covered up. They weren't being shared and because of that people were dying, planes were crashing, problems weren't being uncovered. CH: So, they devised a whole system to encourage everybody in the RAF from the most humble mechanic to the most glamorous lantern-jawed top gun pilot to own up to every single mistake and found very quickly that they were starting to solve problems, in fact, before the problems even arose. Because they would, a small near miss, they would have just been brushed aside or ignored in the past wasn't brought to the attention of authorities who investigated it, and often would avoid a small problem becoming a bigger one later, which in a way underlines the delicious paradox of the slow fix, which is that sometimes it's not that slow. Sometimes the results are not only better than a quick fix, but you get them more quickly. ME: I've always been puzzled in anything to do with aeroplanes, why is called a near miss, 'cause it's really near hit, isn't it? [laughter] CH: Yeah, exactly. ME: In your exploration of the subject, is there a culture or a society where slowing down has actually worked at various levels, either in government or private industry or education, or culturally? CH: People always ask me that question and I don't think that there is one country that stands out as the top of the league table for it. What I do think is that each country has some good slow in it and some bad slow, and good fast and bad fast. And some countries do some things slow very well. So, you mentioned education. Finland is famous for having an enormously successful education and it has a lot of slow ethos to it. Children don't start schooling until the age, the year in which they turn seven, they spend fewer hours in the classroom, they do less homework, there's no tutoring industry. They don't sit hardly any exams apart from later in their careers. And then when they do sit down to do the international PISA exams at the age of 15, competing against 500,000 kids from around the world, they routinely come out top or very near top. ME: One or two. Yeah. CH: Top of the charts. So, that's one example, in Finland. People think of the Italians as being wonderfully slow with food and, of course, slow food grew from the Italian culture of [Italian word] and sitting around the table and all that stuff that we hanker after in the Anglo-Saxon world where it's all about ready meals and microwaves. But then, on the other side, the Italians, if you've ever driven on an Italian highway, [laughter] you know that the Italians are in touch with their inner hare as well as their inner tortoise. ME: Can you connect... Is there a connection, a viable, working connection, between the slow fix and creativity? CH: Hugely. I think that there's an intimate bond between slowness and creativity. ME: How so? CH: I think that's when... This is something that you find throughout history and throughout disciplines as well that artists will talk about that moment in the creative journey when you forget the clock. People talk about being in a state of flow when they forget the clock. They forget time. It's a timeless moment, and also, those moments of fogginess, blurriness, uncertainty when you can just about discern the silhouette of what's coming, and you feel a bit uncomfortable, but you sit with it and you come out the other end. And that's something that you hear from scientists. It's something you hear from engineers, designers, that there's always a moment of slowing down somewhere in the creative process, and that's why the most creative companies and organizations of the world are trying to claw back little moments and spaces for people to slow down whether it's... A classic example is Google with its famous 20% rule. ME: What is that? CH: There's been a slight modification of it recently, but essentially what they did was they gave... Allowed their engineers and creative people to devote 20% of their working time to personal projects. So, no timetables, no targets. Just that kind of free flowing, almost a kind of day dreamy thing, and it sounds on the face of it like a waste of time or a slacker's turner, but in fact, of course, what happened is that many of Google's home run products like Gmail and news one the G News or Google News came out of that 20% time because people were able to slip into that richer, more nuanced form of thinking. CH: There's been some research also that suggests that the brain waves when we're in a relaxed state move into a more complex pattern and, therefore, we get these creative breakthroughs. Psychologists refer to that as slow thinking, and, in fact, I think we all know that, don't we? From our personal lives or whatever work we do. We know that our best ideas seldom come when we're juggling nine emails or racing to meet a 5:00 deadline with the boss hanging over our shoulder. They come when we're soaking in the bath, right? Or walking in the park with the phone switched off or swinging in a hammock. ME: I forget who said it, but it was something like "The problems of the world are caused by the inability of people to sit quietly in a room alone for an hour". That because we don't... There's no contemplative side to that. 'Under Pressure' I want to talk just a bit about that. That was a look at how we, and I include myself, are parenting our children these days, and you use the phrase "free range child." What did you... CH: Yeah. ME: What did you mean by that? CH: Well, I... I grew up in Canada, and my childhood was kind of the '70s and the '80s, and I think anyone in the room who grew up probably before about the mid-90's will have the same memory of childhood being what Virginia Woolf called it "great cathedral of space". That kind of feeling of amplitude, of not being scheduled within an inch of your life, of spending all of your time outdoors. That thing, you'd say to your mom "I'm bored" and she'd just kick you outside, and you'd go out and run wild with the local kids and then you'd hear "Lunch!" And you'd come back. You'd go out again. It would be "Dinner!" And that sort of thing and it's... That has been completely jettisoned now as children live like mini adults with their own personal planners and schedules... ME: Play date. I never heard the phrase "play date." CH: Exactly, yes. We've professionalized child rearing so that playing, free play, just children messing around, and we know from the research that that is when... We've seen it in our own lives that a child is walking... You're walking down the street with your four year old daughter, and she spots a ladybug on a rosebush, and she can stop there for 20 minutes, and she'll give that ladybug a name. She'll weave a whole narrative around it. She'll watch it scuttling up and down the rosebush and we know from brain research and everything about science tells us that in that moment, her brain is on fire. She is building her brain, extraordinary fireworks, and yet, we see that nowadays, and we think "That kind of looks like a waste of time." So, we separate her from the ladybug, grab her by the wrist and say "Come on. We're late for ballet." And off we go, and I think it's those ladybug moments that have been squeezed out of the childhood experience now, and that's in a way what I think of as free range childhood is the freedom to... The time, space, and freedom to explore the world on your own terms rather than have it spoon fed to you and micromanaged. ME: One of the most depressing things I saw a couple of weeks ago, a man walking down Yonge Street with, I took to be, his four or five-year-old daughter by the hand, and he was on his phone. CH: Yeah. ME: Was there something more important than being with your daughter that was on the phone? It... You also talk about Slow Cities. We live... We don't live in a city in Toronto. We live in a parking lot and it's almost impossible now to get from A to B, but we're rushing at it. What is a Slow City? CH: Well, a Slow City with a capital S and a capital C... There is actually an official movement which started again in Italy, but it spread across Europe and beyond... ME: Thank God for the Italians, right? CH: Yeah, they got some things right. And the Slow City... That particular movement is aimed at cities of up to 50,000 inhabitants and there's a long list of changes they need to make. But essentially it boils down to redesigning and rethinking the urban landscape in ways that encourage people to slow down, to smell the proverbial roses, to put on the brakes. So closing roads to traffic, more green spaces, that sort of thing. But in some ways I think being a Slow City is greater than the sum of those parts. It's a bit like a philosophical declaration. It's like a whole town coming together and saying, "We understand that slow is good, that slowness has a role to play in the 21st century." And that is very liberating because people... The taboo about slowing down is so embedded and so ingrained in our culture that even when we can feel in our bones that it would be good for us to put on the brakes, our bodies are telling us, our minds, our souls are crying out for a little bit of slowing down... ME: Then what's the problem? CH: We're ashamed to do it. We're afraid to... ME: Why, though? Is it embarrassing? Are we afraid of... I think you had an expression about not keeping up with the Jones' or something. CH: Yeah. It is that. I think it's woven into our vernacular, isn't it? "You snooze, you lose". "The early bird catches the worm". All these phrases are there, bombarding us with this idea that if you slow down, you're lazy, you're boring, you're roadkill. Right? And that slow is almost a dirty word, it's a pejorative, it's a four-letter word in our culture, so that people are afraid to... I think that the slow movement has done a lot to recapture that word. But that taboo remains and lingers. CH: I was sitting on a plane with a... Beside an American lawyer a little while ago from Philadelphia. A woman working... A typical American lawyer working 90-hour week, having three days of holiday a year. And her section of the office was closed down. They were having some repairs and the mainframe was shut... She couldn't do anything, so she had to spend the day at home. And she went home, she felt a bit restless, but she kind of went with it. Made a salad, read, had a nap, hadn't done it in years. Had the most wonderful day she'd had in a decade, she told me. But she said, "The next day I went back into the office and all my colleagues said, 'What did you do yesterday?'" And she said, "It was terrible. I found myself opening my mouth and inventing things I'd done because I was ashamed to say that I kind of done nothing and that I'd sort of liked it." And it's that shame that I think holds us back often. The fear of being pilloried, vilified, ridiculed, brushed aside. ME: But have you not been in a position... In a situation where you have a down day and you start to get twitchy. You break out into a sweat. You don't know how to have the nap and you can't read more than four pages of the book and you think, "My God, I want to go back to the office." CH: I personally do not have those days anymore, [laughter] I have to say, but I recognize the symptoms. Because I've been there. But I definitely have a before and after and my before was... I used to feel that little itchy, sick feeling of what can I do next? I don't wear a watch anymore. I used to be looking at my watch all the time... ME: I noticed you don't wear a wristwatch. 27:13 CH: And I'm very punctual. I'm never late, but I... ME: How does that work? [laughter] CH: At the moment I'm on a book tour so I've got somebody with me that's got a watch with her. But no, I think I've got a good, pretty accurate internal clock and also, we're surrounded by clocks. They're everywhere, aren't they? ME: Yeah. CH: And I find, in fact, sometimes if I'm in a foreign city or I'm somewhere even in London and I don't know what time it is, I'll ask somebody. Do that unthinkable thing, which is speak to a stranger and I've had some quite interesting conversations off the back of the hat. So... ME: There was an American writer named Nicholas Carr and a few years ago he wrote a piece in The Atlantic entitled "Is Google Making us Stupid?" And he said that he found since using Google and various devices, he had lost what he calls "deep reading" ability. He could sit down prior to this and read for three or four hours. Now he said, after 40 minutes, his attention wanders. Are you a slow reader or how do you... CH: I recognize that phenomenon and I think you've got to be very disciplined about the use of these gadgets and they are wonderful, obviously addictive, and I have them all but they all come with that little red button that says "off." I went through a long time of never using that, but now I use it a lot. And I think it's that changing of gears. It's saying "Okay there are times when I'm on my iPhone, there are times when I'm tweeting and I'm on Facebook and I'm doing my social network dance and all that. But I'm not going to be on that all the time". And I think the brain needs those moments of shifting out of high speed to low speed and all those different tempos and paces. And I think that allows you to retain the ability to read deeply. I saw a very interesting program about a high school that's up in the mountains in Vermont where young American kids, teenagers are going who are addicted to gadgets. ME: Right. CH: Who... Deep reading? Forget it. They can barely get through a blog post, right? A tweet is long for them. And they arrived at this place and of course they had withdrawal symptoms, but they start to, after a week... After a couple of days, they're just... They're in love with the place because they're finding this deeper rhythm. They're learning that you can have a conversation with somebody without fiddling below the table with your pocket... And sometimes it's uncomfortable. You don't necessarily know what you're gonna say, but there's a kind of learning and that's part of being alive, to be uncomfortable sometimes and it's remarkable. And in fact, one of the reasons I feel optimistic that we can turn around this speedaholic supertanker is that it's the young people I find who are more and more all over this idea that it's too fast and they wanna find a different gear. ME: But you're a writer. You were a foreign correspondent. You had to face, as we all do, deadlines. And the tradition in journalism, the deadlines are inviolable. You do not miss a deadline. Isn't that a form of being controlled or managed by, if not speed, certainly pressure, to deliver a certain thing at a certain time? CH: Absolutely. And, I think deadlines are, they are kind of a double-edged sword because in some ways they are very useful. They focus the mind and if you have a procrastination gene, they are useful for getting you to deliver the goods on time. And that's important. The trouble I think is that we fall into deadline mode. So we're in the office and we got to deliver the quarterly report or the article or whatever it is by 6 PM, get through it, we deliver, we go home, and we're still on deadline mode. We're eating our dinner as though the boss is waiting for us to finish. And I think it's... Again, it's about being aware that we get stuck in those modes and finding little levers, little things to do to whether it's as simple as just breathing deeply four or five times and re-oxygenating the body, lowering the blood pressure, something as small as that, which no boss is going to begrudge you five deep breathes. He might even join you. ME: You don't know the CBC, man. [laughter] CH: That's true. Although actually now I think about it, I'm not sure if you want to be sharing heavy breathing with your boss. That could end in trouble, lawsuits possibly. ME: There was a story a couple of years ago about a department of government in Ottawa where the deputy minister told his staff that from Friday night until Monday morning they were not to use their Blackberrys. They were not to communicate in any way with that, the idea being that people could unwind or decompress. And some people complained about it and said that's unfair, we want to use our... So, how do you change the way we think in order to change the way we act? CH: I think you have to, that sort of example like that, you have to do it in baby steps. And you have to go with the people who want to go with it and gradually bring along the people who don't. And I think once the people who, often you'll find that the people who don't are resisting through fear. And once they see that it works for the other people, it works for the team, that everybody is happier, healthier, enjoying their family time more and coming back to the office sharper, with better ideas because you've had that time away from the cold face, I think you start to bring people around. And you mentioned that, one example, there was an intriguing one in Britain, where when David Cameron took over as prime minister, what are we now, three years ago I guess, that his first act or decree as prime minister was to ban the use of smartphones in all cabinet meetings. ME: Really? CH: Just to get people to focus, right, to pay attention, and they found... ME: Were people on the phone in cabinet meetings? CH: Even in cabinet meetings. When they're just, which may explain some of the really bad decisions we got from governments. [laughter] nd I spoke to somebody who's in that world and they said... People did chafe against it at first. They thought, "Why do I have to stop looking at my inbox," but over time, they came around and it worked. ME: How do you embed the idea of slowing in your daily life? How do you... Do you have a schedule? Or do you get up and do you compartmentalize... CH: Yes, I suppose. I do have a schedule in a sense that I've got children who impose a schedule... One to get up at seven, and another one goes to school a bit later, and then I come home and we have just family dinner every evening of the week unless I'm travelling, I come home in time for dinner. So those, that book ends my day. But otherwise I try not to over-schedule. I try to leave... 'Cause this is one of the things when people say "What do I do to start slowing down, to let some oxygen into my diary, to get off this crazy treadmill?" One of the things I suggest, it sounds a little bit paradoxical is to schedule unscheduled time. I sort of feel like we've almost reached that point where we have to ring fence off a couple of hours where we don't put anything in the diary, right, the planner. Because nowadays, we have such a neurotic relationship with time that we see a hole in our schedule. And instead of rejoicing and thinking, "Hmm, there's some downtime to look forward to," we panic and rush to fill it with something that's really often not that important. ME: I get a great thrill, a great frisson, when someone calls up and says, "I'm sorry I can't make it for lunch." [laughter] CH: Yes, I know, I know. ME: "I can't... " And I, "My god, you can't? That's terrible." I love that. [laughter] I think that... Can you give... Let me ask you finally, if you could be doctor honorary for a moment, give us a prescription. How, what are the... Are there some basic steps or fundamental things that we could do without killing ourselves to... CH: Absolutely. I would say the first is, coming back to what I said before, just breathe. If you feel that kind of very panicky, everything is moving way too fast and spinning out of control, just stop for a moment and breathe deeply five times. And it will make a physical difference which can start to percolate up into how you feel in your head. Second, suggest... I guess what you were asking for a quick tips to slow down? Is that right? [laughter] ME: Yeah. CH: So I'll rattle through these. ME: Yeah speed, it up, will you? CH: We got a deadline. ME: Come on. Come on, let's go. CH: The clock is ticking. ME: Come on, spit it out, bud. CH: The second quick tip would be what I call a speed audit, which is just... Every once in a while through the day as you're doing an activity, stop and ask yourself if you're doing that activity at the right speed. And if you're going too fast, slow down. Very simple. It's so often we find ourselves doing something more quickly than we need to, just by default, without even thinking about it. And it can be enough just to stop and say, "Am I driving too fast? Am I eating too fast? Am I reading this bedtime story too fast?" And if your answer is yes, and very often it is, just go back a little more slowly. ME: Do you just asked yourself those questions and... CH: Yes and comes to that little stop and that's free. No one even need know you're doing it. So it can be a secret pleasure, and it works. So I guess those are two suggestions. I think another thing is to, coming back to our use of time and our over-scheduling and our cramming our schedules. Tomorrow look at your or even this evening when you go home, look at your diary for the week and pick one thing that's the least important and drop it. ME: Just drop it. CH: Like that lunch that you would be happy to cancel. Ring up and cancel that lunch you don't really wanna go to, just let it go. And another thing, following on from that I think, is that idea of scheduling unscheduled time. Set aside, say, "I'm gonna take two hours on Sunday morning when I don't let anything get into that time," and I arrive at whatever it is, 11 on Sunday morning, and suddenly I have that cathedral space of slowness and I can go with the flow. I can rest. I can enjoy serendipity. Because we're so highly programmed and scheduled now, we don't... People ring up, we can't follow, because we've got to get on to the next thing. CH: And then lastly, of course, is technology. Take 30 minutes, say tomorrow, pick 30 minutes when you just switch everything off. It might be when you get up in the morning instead of manically reaching for your inbox, which probably is by your bed. Just take 30 minutes. Go have breakfast and then after 30 minutes look, or maybe it's 30 minutes of lunch or maybe it's 30 minutes when you come home from work and the first 30 minutes in the home you talk to your partner... Every thing's switched off, you talk to your partner, you talk to your kids, and those things actually can make quite a big difference in starting to... ME: That Sunday morning thing wouldn't work for me [laughter] for various reasons... [laughter] CH: Whoops. [laughter] ME: Before we got to the audience, have you noticed in the way you've embedded this in your life, has it changed the way you relate to people? I don't just mean your children, your wife but just folks? CH: It does. And I think in some ways that's the real litmus test of slowing down or the real payback is that my relationships feel stronger. We try to accelerate absolutely everything don't we, and there are some things that simply cannot be sped up, and one of those has to be relationships. You cannot make somebody fall in love with you faster because you wanna get married in June or you cannot forge an intimate friendship more quickly because you need someone to backpack around Europe with you in August. These things have a natural fixed time. And today we have 342 friends on Facebook, but when was the last time we spent a whole hour with one in the park talking face-to-face? And I think that when you slow down, that's one of the big, big payoffs is that your relationships feel much more solid and more real because you're there. You're not... [A], you're not kind of arriving in that sort of slightly agitated state looking, wondering if that's your phone vibrating. You're there. And ultimately that's what the human condition is about. We're social animals and it's about connecting with other people I think. ME: The book is The Slow Fix. The author is Mr. Carl Honore. [applause] ME: Thank you sir. Thank you. CH: Thank you very much. ME: Thank you. There's a microphone for people who have questions. I'm sure Mr. Honore has raised a whole series of, certainly in my mind, and if you just go to the mic... Yes ma'am. Go ahead. S?: I just have to observe, you talk very fast. [laughter] CH: You're not the first person to observe that. S?: You've a very speedy, frenetic kind of personality. That's one thing. But I wonder how you shine the lens of slow [inaudible]... [laughter] on right now. CH: Yeah. On the speaking sides, I guess the essence of the slow philosophy is to do things at the right speed, right? And each person has their own metronome, and my metronome is definitely set on the higher end. But I'm speaking at a comfortable rate for me and I don't feel like I'm rushing. So that would be my take on the fast talking. The second question is the book tour. I have to say that the book tour is probably the most challenging moment of my life as it happens at the moment for remaining slow. ME: Why? Why is that? CH: Because I guess one of the ways to control your pace is to have control of your time. And this is something you see in the workplace as companies realize that the best way to get people to energize about the work and creative is to give them control over their time. Set them a deadline, but then between here and there you use your time however you want to. So if you wanna go home at two in the afternoon to see your son play hockey, fine. You wanna come in at midnight on Saturday, that's fine too. It's about, you can use your own time but you still have to deliver at the end. So in my own life I feel I've got real control over my time but on a book tour of course I have less control. But even so, there's nothing I can do. I don't feel anxious. I follow what I'm told to do. I turn up on time. I do my bit and I move on to the next thing. And I also make sure that I schedule enough time to recharge. ME: You meditate? CH: I do, yeah. ME: Every day? CH: Not every day, no. But I do, yes. Yeah. ME: Yes, ma'am, right behind there. Yes. S?: Hi [inaudible] ideas is that you... ME: Can you just speak up a bit. Going to get a new microphone. Maybe you can just shout out the question. S?: I believe. [laughter] ME: Whoa. S?: I believe that... [pause] S?: So far down the road in terms of problem-solving. What's the other half? CH: I think that's true. I think that one of the other components is the emotional side that especially when you're dealing with complex problems like... Well any complex problem really whether it's mending a broken relationship, or fixing a broken school, or dealing with poverty or climate. You've got to tap the emotions as well and I think that goes beyond what we can just do rationally, I suppose as would be... S?: Or perhaps, in some cases, you may wish to tap into the emotions first and leave the reason in your back pocket, so to speak. CH: Yeah, and of course reason is, it can be a misleading light because we're much less rational than we think we are and that's one of the things that a lot of psychology and psychological tests over the years have shown is that we think we're clever than we are and experts are very often wrong when they think they're right. So we've go to distrust those rationalist impulses and have other people sift them for us and test them over and over again. We've got to be on our guard that what we think is rational may not be rational and in a way that comes back to what I was eluding to earlier about problem solving being... Especially these complex problems that one of the key elements in tackling any difficult problem is accepting uncertainty, that state of not knowing. CH: In fact, the final chapter in the book, really one of the conclusions that I come to is that, "What does it even mean to solve a problem? How do you solve climate change or how can we all agree on fixing poverty looks like?" These things are all so nuanced and complex that to try and see it entirely through the lens of pure rationality and reduce everything to an algorithm or an equation or graph, seems to me to be absurd really and we need to tap into other things like emotions and allowing ourselves to feel comfortable with not knowing, the state of not knowing for sure. S?: Thank you. ME: Yes sir. S?: If I could ask a question about unenlightened employers. It seems to me that you gave some examples of enlightened employers that many employers today are using the technology to expect you to answer emails at 10:30 at night, be on call on the weekend, set unrealistic deadlines for projects because, "Gee, there's 48 hours on the weekend. You can work on this and have it on my desk Monday morning." Can you just give us some ideas of strategies to evangelize convert the unenlightened. CH: Yeah, and it has to be said that the unenlightened seriously outnumber the enlightened in this moment, so I'm sure your question resonates with a lot of people in this room. I think one way to tackle that resistance or that inertia is to... I think it has to be... People have to experience that slowing down works. It's one thing to turn up with K studies and say, "Well look at Google or look at Boston Consulting Group or look at these companies that are using Slow and thriving off it." It's quite another to experience it within your own company and I think one thing that often works, and I've seen it work in companies before is that people who believe that they... That change whether it's negotiating a new cultural norms and protocols around the use of technology or rethinking the obsessive tightening of deadlines, and that sort of thing. CH: The best way to tackle that is not to come in with all guns blazing and say, "It's my way or the highway," but to say, "Why don't we test run for a month? Or why don't we have a week or two weeks when everybody's allowed to unhook and unplug for one a day a week," or you know whatever it is depending on the company and just see what it feels like. Because I think often what's going on in companies is that behind the facade, the kind of hardcore we're all fast facade, everybody is quaking and everybody is feeling the pinch and the pain. It's a bit like that final scene in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly when you know the three... You know, "Ooh Oooh," and it's like they're all looking and we're waiting to see who is gonna crack first. Sometimes it's enough for people just to play a game with it, to have a week of trying and then they see actually, "This isn't so scary and it's quite nice and it's working" and the boss then experiences it as well. I think that's often a useful way to come with a suggestion of just trying it, just trialling one thing. And don't try and do it all at once. That would be un-slow. Maybe it's just technology or maybe it's the deadline or maybe it's lunch hour. ME: Thank you. Yes sir. S?: Our contemporary society of this time has a lot of people working two or maybe three part-time jobs. In contrast, if we go back far enough and say let's say in the '60s or the '70s, a person might have a nine-to-five job and strangely enough we stop for lunch maybe three-quarters of an hour or one hour to recharge our batteries. Now as a result of various corporate culture, that relaxing concept seems to have been eroded. Now if we were gonna go back to that to have that relaxing our lunch or three-quarters of an hour time or whatever it is, would you contemplate or how would you contemplate reversing that back to those earlier years when the stress was a lot less because as a doctor said to me some years ago stress can kill. CH: Well, in a way I suppose it's similar to the answer to the question before. I think the way to contemplate it is to get people to try, try it out. So I met a guy who runs a company in New Zealand, recently, that takes napping pods into big companies, so people can have a siesta. And we're not talking about the traditional siesta of... A whole bottle of Rioja and three hours sleep. That's gone, [laughter] that's gone forever, apart for maybe on your holidays. But a kind of leaner and meaner siesta, NASA approved, 21 minutes nap and a glass of water before. And they take these, taking them into the workplace and finding that people thrive on them. So it's... Again it's that sort of getting people to experience it and I think his hit rate is 85% of the companies he goes into they stay in. They choose to have the pods. ME: They take it up... CH: They take it up or they create some space of their own to follow up on it. So I think again it comes back to getting people to try. Because all of us are, as I say, we're... Behind the facade I think we're all yearning for this. And in fact I think it's the young generation who give me a lot of hope, because I think that the young people coming into the workforce now are looking at what our... Older generation had and thinking, "Not sure if I really want that. I'm not sure if I want to sacrifice my health, my relationship, my soul on the altar of the greasy corporate pole. I want something bigger. I want to be part of a company that has... I want meaning, purpose... " They use this kind of language. "I want a kind of company that does good" or "doesn't do evil," like Google said. And if they don't get that they'll walk, they'll setup their own company, they'll do corporate, they do social enterprise. The boom in co-ops around the world, a billion people in co-ops now. Co-ops are a complete reworking of late capitalist model. They are slow fixes in action. They take the long view, they look far beyond the bottom line. CH: So these things are... The tectonic plates are shifting below the surface. And this young generation coming up are pushing a lot of it. The problem of course is that the older generation are kind of standing in the way. So one example, in Britain, when... Britain has this system whereby young doctors, junior doctors, have to do two years of just insane hours. They would do 40-hour shifts, right. And the European Union came along and said, "Hang on, wait, you can't do that. You've got to cut the hours," and so on. And the group that dug in its heels the most to resist that was older doctors. Why do you think that was? CH: It's because they're looking back and thinking, "You know, I probably lost my marriage. I put on 30 pounds. Why should you get such an easy ride?" And I think there's a lot of bed blockers higher up in the corporate world who've paid a high price for that fast forward approach and they... I think there's a kind of envy and a resistance to letting people do things differently. So I sort of feel, coming back to the fact that... I guess what I'm saying is I'm a glass half full person on that issue. ME: There's a younger gentleman there, maybe we can hear from him. S?: Hello, Mr. Honore. My question is, do you find that this tendency to live in a fast-paced lifestyle is common throughout all cultures and age groups or more common in, say, developed countries? CH: I think that it's pretty global, now. Obviously if you go to an African village that has no electricity then clearly you are back in old, slow... But wherever you go now, inthe... Across the developing world and in emerging markets, what people are either living is the same pace that we're living at or they're yearning to. So I think that this is a kind of a global moment. But by the same token, the kind of minority track or current to slow things down, to find that balance between fast and slow is also very strong. So I find that there's a lot of this talk about slowing going on down in Latin America, China, I hear a lot from people in China doing things, Taiwan, these very fast places. ME: The irony is the slow movement is rapidly catching on. [laughter] CH: Yeah. It's a very welcome irony, I have to say. ME: We've got a couple of more questions. Yes ma'am. S?: I'm curious about your own journey with slowing down and whether it generated a journey in self discovery, what you've discovered about yourself. CH: Yes, I think it does 'cause I think one, as I talked about earlier, I think one of the things that you lose touch with is the self when you get caught in that spiral of speed. And I think that I had kind of lost... I think I had lost my way a little bit. I guess I went into journalism, originally to save the world and I'm not sure what happened. [chuckle] I didn't, I'm still trying to save the world now. But I think toward the end of my journalism career when things got really fast and I became that speed reading father with Snow White. That I kind of moved away and everything just became a story to me. It was a branch of the infotainment industry and then a celebrity was coming in and it just... And I kind of lost that compass a bit. And slowing down made me realize, and I was unhappy. I knew something was not right and I couldn't quite put a finger on it. CH: But slowing down allowed me to get back clarity, to look inside and work out what was ailing me. And I think I worked out that I had lost my compass and I was doing... And that's when I kind of moved out of journalism and moved into writing books and tackling some of these questions head on, in a different form, long form. So I suppose that kind of, in a way I sort of saved myself, [chuckle] in a way. S?: I have one just, comment really, not a question, but I was really intrigued by what you said, you kind of skipped over it at the very start, but something about effort. And I wondered how much slowing down then gives us all permission to put out effort towards things that have tremendous value in our lives, but because we've been taught to that, you know, fast, fast, fast, write the book overnight, that kind of thing. Whether now slowing down really gives us all permission to do really what our ancestors did which was take more time. That good things do take time. CH: Yeah. S?: Relationships, works of art, creativity, whatever. But I wondered if you might speak to that a little it. CH: Yeah, I think that's absolutely true. In fact I think that is the essence of what the slow fix is about, the book, is that is that good things take time. Good solutions take time and it's the things you rattle through there. It's the... The Apple is a good example, the Mac, that took years of Steve Jobs particularly sweating the small stuff, changing the motherboard, to create this objective late consumer capitalist beauty, right? So I think that's... I suppose I've now... As you know that I'm on this book tour and I've just now started meeting the public and signing books for people and I had really thought before what I would sign as a dedication. And without even thinking about, I found myself signing "Patience is still a virtue". And in some ways that kind of seem to sum up to me what this is all about, that good things come to those who wait. And these are ancient ideas. In fact I'm not saying anything new. I maybe using new language or 21st century vernacular to get it across but these are ancient wisdoms. CH: And I talked a lot about in the book in 'The Slow Fix'... It's not about just patience, it's about humility. If humility that... And this a culture that militates against humility. We're all photoshoping ourselves on Facebook and full of all this blarney, putting out this incredible image of our lives. In fact that gets in the way of slow fixes because we can't admit that we're wrong. We can't admit we need help. And so there's a wonderful phrase, I think it's from TS Eliot, he talks about the wisdom of humility. Kundera talks about the wisdom of slowness. You know patience is a virtue. These are ancient ideas that resonate right through the book I think and the idea. ME: Just two quick questions if you can. S?: Sure. It's been pointed out that you're a fast talker, but here you are talking about slowness. And I'm just wondering, the fact that people like do live their lives at different speeds and your... From all I gather advocating more mindful contemplative use on thought put into how one spends their time. And I love the keep in expression "Time is life," but I'm wondering that creates conflict and so in terms of power relations that go on, in terms of those conflicts of different paces that people go through. And I'm just wondering as your main point sort of advocating more of a self-autonomous sense of where one directs their efforts in terms of its relation to time? CH: Yeah. I think... You've put your finger on something very important there which is that "No man is an island" and you cannot just declare unilateral slow. You've got to... And I didn't do it either. You have to talk to people around, you explain what's happening and understand that there's a ripple effect. And because we are all so interconnected, it's hard to do every single thing, every single day at the perfect tempo for you. You've got to compromise, sometimes you're gonna go little fast than you want. So it's about making those connections and allowing people to balance all those different metronomes and different tempos. ME: Yes sir, last question. S?: Okay. So I'll make it real quick. So I think most societies would conserve money, that time is money. So it's almost as if we need money to slow down, right? Like we save our money for vacations and stuff like that. So I think that's like if we slow down then we may not make enough money to slow down. So it's kind like a [inaudible] there. So [laughter] can you like maybe comment on that? Maybe. CH: Well I suppose if you think that money... You're saying that money is what you need. ME: Yeah. CH: But people think... I think people have an idea of slow as being a kind of moneyed leisure pursuit that to be slow you've got to eat, slivers of white Italian truffles and sip Barola wine, which is a lovely version of slow, but it's not the only one. Slow... A lot of slows is reading bedtime stories to your children at the right speed. Turning off your television and... These things are free. And in a way I think ultimately of slow as a state of mind, it's a chip in your head that you change. And if you arrive at every moment trying to do whatever it is, not as fast as possible or as well as possible, and you're opposed to [inaudible] slow, right? ME: It's just a gear sequention [inaudible], right? Like slow-fast, slow-fast, everyday? CH: Yeah. It's about shifting those gears. And sometimes you find, you slow down at work and... My view is that if you slow down judiciously in the right sort of way at work, you'll actually be more productive, so you may end up making more money and being able to afford those white truffles. ME: Thank you. The other night I was trying to get my teenage son to hurry up with something. And he turned to me and he said, "Common pop, YOLO, YOLO." [laughter] And I said "What the hell is YOLO, YOLO?" "You only live once." [laughter] There's insights. CH: From the mouths of babes. ME: Mr. Carl Honore. [applause] CH: Thank you. ME: Thank you. That was terrific. CH: Thank you.



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