Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read

Festina lente or speûde bradéōs (σπεῦδε βραδέως) is a classical adage and oxymoron meaning “make haste slowly” (sometimes rendered in English as “more haste, less speed”). It has been adopted as a motto numerous times, particularly by the emperors Augustus and Titus, the Medicis and the Onslows.

There are lots of maxims and bromides circulating about going fast and breaking things. These are meant to get us over the inertia of inaction. Inaction is lame. Whether its fear, or analysis paralysis, procrastination, or just plain laziness that keeps us in check, inaction is lame.

There are lots of great homilies that exhort us to action like Just Do It. Here are some I like:

If everything seems in control you’re not going fast enough.

Mario Andretti

Take a more playful attitude: Do then think instead of think then do.

These are all words to live by and jump-start our initiative. But it’s also important to festina lente: make haste slowly. Going fast and breaking things is only reasonable advice if you don’t have to go back immediately and fix what got broken.

Doing things twice or more sucks and is really inefficient. Never underestimate the power of getting it right the first time. Acting with intention and focus beats frantic effort. Pace and cadence count.

Never underestimate the power of getting it right the first time.

In laboratory settings where scientists work with dangerous toxins and contagions, lab operators are rated on their “slow hands”: the ability to move slow enough that accidents like spilling and dropping don’t occur. This is important in the kitchen but critical in a lab where a dropped and broken test tube can be lethal.

Special forces like Delta, Seals and Parajumpers are trained to slow down in serious situations so that each movement and task is done once and done right. A mistake can waste precious time and jeopardize the mission.

So stop procrastinating and just do it and course correct based on feedback. And also remember Festina Lente so you don’t have to needlessly back track.

Persist in your efforts

Long-term consistency beats short-term intensity.

- Bruce Lee

Long-term goals and life in general require the cadence and pace of a marathon not a sprint. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Share this post
John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

Receive my 7 day email course

Take your finance skills to the next level with my 7-day corporate finance email course. You'll learn all the essential topics from financial analysis to risk management in a fun, engaging format. Each day, you'll receive an email with practical examples, exercises and resources. Perfect for aspiring finance pros or anyone looking to expand their knowledge. Get ready to transform your finance game!

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

If you like this article. Here are some more articles I think you might like.


The Road to Becoming a Unicorn: A Quick Guide to Startup Funding Rounds

The whole process of funding and developing startups has become more widespread because the cost of getting a product to market has dropped so precipitously in the past couple of decades from millions of dollars to typically anywhere from under $20,000 to $500,000.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
7 min read

Oh Behave! Behavioral Economics: Why we do what we do.

Behavioral Economics is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision making.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
4 min read
Personal Growth

Professional Development: 3 Types of Skill Sets

To perform effectively in a job and advance to greater responsibilities requires developing a well rounded set of skills. Every job and every industry has its specifics but these skill sets are general and apply across all jobs. Skills are fundamental for turning a job into a career trajectory and this trajectory is part of our personal fulfillment in life.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
5 min read