10 Reasons Why Lag is an Advantage


December 9, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Imagine that you’re driving a car and want to make a right-hand turn. You turn the steering wheel – but nothing happens. The car keeps on traveling straight ahead for another 100 yards or so before it slowly begins to veer off to the right. That doesn’t sound like a safe car, does it? And it would be a stressful experience, because we are used getting to an instant response to a change of direction. It’s the same whenever we start something new.

We want immediate results when we start something new.

But life isn’t like that. When we start something new, we bump up against the principle of lag. This means that there is a period of time between action and results. Lag can be very frustrating. Because when you start something new, you have a vision of success. And lag means that you may not see that success for a long time.

My worst experience of lag was when I started out as a blogger two years ago. I created Goodlife Zen and sat back, waiting for people to subscribe. For many months nothing happened. My posts seemed to disappear into a black hole in cyberspace. At times I was ready to give up. But I kept going, doggedly writing post after post. Patience paid off and now Goodlife Zen is thriving.

Looking back, I realize that the period of lag was crucial. It taught me that lag is an advantage. Here is why:

    1. It gives you time to acquire new skills.
      Whenever we start something new, we need a new set of skills. That might not be apparent first off. But as we become more familiar with the new direction, we tend to encounter challenges that need new skills. Lag time give you time to build a new set of skills.


  • It allows you to refocus your life.
    Whenever we start something new, we need to build it into our life. Maybe something else that took center stage previously has got to move in the background. The lag time allows you to make considered decisions about how to re-organize our life.



  • It gives you time to practice.
    There is no instant mastery. When we develop a new skill, we need to practice it in order to get more experience. Lag time means that you can acquire the mastery you need – before it really matters.



  • It gives you time to assimilate a new subculture.
    Every new venture leads us into a new subculture. It’s important to get to know it, and to adapt your style to it.



  • It allows you to make personal connections.
    In order to thrive in our new venture, we need to make good connections with others in the field. Whether it’s a new hobby you’re taking up, or whether it’s a new business venture – good connections are often the difference between success and failure.



  • It gives you time to step up to leadership.
    For every new venture we need a fair amount of leadership. It takes time to step up to leadership. Lag allows you to slowly develop the leadership skills you need.



  • It teaches you to be patient.
    Patience is a great character strength. It’s something that we need to practice. Lag forces you to learn how to be patient.



  • It weeds out the determined from the enthusiastic.
    Everyone is enthusiastic when they start something new. But if it’s an uphill battle without instant results, most people give up. Lag time weeds out all but those determined to succeed.



  • It allows you to fail and recover.
    Everyone makes mistakes, especially in a new environment. The great thing about lag time is that it gives you the chance to get things wrong – and then to learn from your mistakes and recover.



  • It creates organic growth.
    If you think of nature, there is no instant growth. You may be able to accelerate growth through using artificial means, such as a hothouse, but the plants that have been forced to grow fast will be a lot more delicate than the ones that have grown at their own organic pace. It’s the same for any venture: organic growth leads to better long-term results.


You can see from these ten points how important the principle of lag is. If we accept lag as something positive, we can use the time to lay good foundations for future growth. However, if we struggle against lag and try to accelerate change – we can feel frustrated, and miss out on important steps of our organic development.

Next time you want change to happen faster in your life, check out the points above. They will remind you to be grateful and enable you to use the principle of lag to your advantage.

Written on 12/09/2009 by Mary Jaksch. Enjoy more posts by Mary on Goodlife ZEN where you can find practical inspiration for a happier life. Photo Credit: batega

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