Do it once and do it right. How long does it take to go back and fix a mistake compared to the time it takes to slow down and do it right in the first place? The expression was first coined in the 14th century as ‘The more hast, the worst spede’ (c. 1350 Douce MS 52, no. 86).

There is the famous story that, many years ago, a man vowed to avenge his father’s murder. He found the greatest swordsman in the land and asked him to teach him to be an expert swordsman. “How long will it take me to be a great swordsman,” asked the grieving son. The swordsman answered, “Seven years.”

This answer was obviously way beyond his expected timeframe.

He asked further, “I want to avenge my father’s death as soon as possible. How long will it take if I am extremely diligent in my training?” The swordsman answered, “Then you will need ten years.”

The aggrieved son was confused and asked the question again with more urgency and emphasis and impatience. “How long will it take if I dedicate every waking hour to my training and do my absolute utmost to be a great swordsman?” The swordsman answered, “Now you will need twenty years.”

The more impatient you become and the more you try and speed up any process, the more you will rush and make mistakes. You will actually learn less and take longer to achieve your goals. No-one applauds the person who rushes through the first 500m of a marathon – the victor is the one who paces himself and lasts the entire 42.195km.

In business, mistakes are costly. They are costly in time to go back and correct the mistakes and potentially on your reputation. If you design your business model to minimise mistakes and make sure you keep moving forward, you will end up with a more efficient business and more productivity per person than encouraging everyone to rush. Festina lente! Hurry slowly!

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