"I Want to Go Slow"

David McCullogh is one of my favorite writers. The historian has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his works on John Adams and Harry Truman.

His latest book, The Greater Journey, is a collection of stories about Americans who traveled to Paris during the 1800s to paint, write, and study medicine.

In USA Today there was a great article about McCullough and his life as a writer. It turns out that he still writes his books using an old Royal typewriter that was made in 1940. The newspaper reporter asked him about the old relic and why he still uses it.

McCullough said, “There is nothing wrong with it.”

The reporter reminded him, “You could write a lot faster if you would use a computer.”

McCullough simply said, “Yes I could. But I don’t want to write faster. I want to go slow. The quality will improve. At least I hope so.”

McCullough tells people that he is “not a trained historian, rather a storyteller.”

Did you catch that? A man who has won two Pulitzers for writing history books is not a historian, but a storyteller.

Now that is a man who knows himself.

You could make a case that McCullough’s greatness

as a writer is precisely because he knows who he is and he knows his audience.

When asked where he comes up with the ideas for his books, McCullough says, “I write books that I wish existed, so I can read them.”

As a leader, do you know yourself? Have you discovered your sweet spot? Do you love what you do so much that it makes you want to go slow? Do you produce stuff that is so good that you wish you could buy it?

I hope so.

If not, maybe you could learn something from McCullough. He sure seems to have discovered the secret.



What did you do this week that brought you the most energy, joy, and fulfillment?





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Coach Brown

8 years ago

I love the fact David McCullough refers to story telling rather than being an historian or history teacher. That sounds a lot like Jesus in his teaching method. History can be boring, but the stories it can reveal are always memorable.


8 years ago

Great insight, Coach!


8 years ago

Now this is a very interesting topic and there is some great insight here for sure. The world we live in today is largely built on speed and efficiency, and sometimes we suffer unintended consequences and lose the benefits of a “slower pace”. Some of the greatest ideas were borne of minds that had time and space to think, and the grandest of inventions were crafted by hands in a very careful, deliberate, and methodical way. Stories do take time to tell, and we should take time to learn this lesson. Thanks Randy!


8 years ago

Thanks ZL. Great insights!

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