Thursday, February 18, 2010

Festina Lente !! (Urgent or Important?)

From my very long ago days of doing Latin at school, I seem to remember the phrase "festina lente" as meaning "hasten slowly" or "more hurry less speed". (I may, of course, be wrong in my recollection and, if I am, I'm sure someone will correct me!!)

I thought of this today because of a couple of events.

First I listened to an interview on Australia's ABC FM radio in which the person being interviewed was telling of his commitment to increasing literacy in third world countries. He explained that, now, they are opening a new library somewhere in a third world country every 4 or 5 hours. An incredible rate given that it is only about 10 years since he first became aware of the issue and committed himself to action. He said that he was an action-orientated person who looked for solutions rather than dwelling on problems. But he also pointed out that from first realising the size of the problem to actually getting things properly moving was about a year. Since then things have grown rapidly. Festina lente !

Second I was approached by someone who is trying to get a new business up and running. She is worried about the need for positive cash flow (aren't we all!!) and has been running around everywhere trying to get business. The result is that she has lost focus on what she really wants to achieve and runs the risk of failing because of confusion regarding priorities. We discussed how taking a step back and refocusing then moving forward in a planned approach would actually help her achieve desired results far more effectively than scattering her energies across a broad range of things.

Its the old question of deciding between "what is urgent" and "what is important". Too often we concentrate on "what is urgent" with the result that "what is important" never gets done and we wind up with time management problems, quality problems, staffing problems, and all the rest.

Part of creating an environment in which everyone can be successful - ie part of leadership - is recognising and applying the need for "festina lente" !

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

No comments:

Post a Comment