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When I started waiting tables at Chili's my trainers commented that while I didn't move fast I was pretty efficient.  I learned that trait at about age ten, when my brother and I babysat a pair of brothers who were younger than us, ages 5 and 6, I think.

There was a game called Perfection.   The object of the game was to place plastic pieces of different shapes into holes in a board.  There was a timer, and if you didn't finish in time the board would pop all of the pieces out.

One of the little boys had trouble finishing in time.  He would get very excited and nervous as the time counted down (the timer could have been made quiet, but they went ahead and let it be noisy, to remind the player.)  There were a few pieces that were similar in shape.  For example, a five-pointed star and a six-pointed star.   This boy consistently had trouble with these shapes.  He'd pick up the five-pointed star and glance at it quickly.  He'd find the six-pointed hole in the board and try to put the star in.  He had trouble recognizing that it wasn't fitting.   And when he did figure that out he'd have trouble scanning the board for another, similar opening.  Meanwhile he was growing visibly more agitated.  He rarely finished in time.

The other boy was incredibly calm.  He'd pick up a piece and look at it.   Then he'd calmly scan the board in an orderly fashion.  If he inadvertently tried to put the piece in the wrong spot he'd continue his search from where he left off.   By the end of the evening he had learned to spot the problem pieces quickly and he had learned most of the board.  He almost always finished with plenty of time to spare.

Calm and steady and doing it right the first time is often much faster than hectic, agitated motion.

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Last modified: January 25, 2003
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