Fast is better than slow

I attended a time management workshop when I was at my corporate job. There was an illustration of a frog in a glass jar on a bunsen burner. Someone lights the flame, the water temperature slowly rises, and it takes time for the frog to realize the situation. When the water starts boiling, the frog can not come out and meets her end. In another experiment, the experimenter drops a frog into a glass jar of boiling water. The frog quickly jumps out and saves herself. The above experiments convey a moral lesson: one needs to be quick to the surrounding changes and act accordingly. In short, the message is: Fast is better than slow.

‘ఆలస్యం అమృతం……’ is a famous Telugu proverb. I heard several stories in my younger days to illustrate the message. In the mythical tale of ‘Sagara Mathana’, the individuals grabbed the objects quickly as they came out of the churn. Even Mahalakshmi did not have a choice. Google’s listed values include: “Fast is better than slow” because they know that their customers want instant results. How long can I wait for a search engine to respond?

“The early bird gets the worm is yet another classic proverb which refers to one’s capacity to get to work quickly and ensure that no one else gets to the “worm” or the prize before I do. If I am not the “early bird”, someone else will be, and I’ll be without any food. Our country has a huge rush as we live in a world of scarcity. I am always worried that I may not get a seat n the bus or get admission for my daughter to an institution of my choice. The scarcity mindset drives my thinking.

New-age marketers offer their products and services incentives, calling them ‘early bird’ offers. I remember buying sixteen kilos of coffee powder with the COVID lockdown announcement.

Let me flip the coin now. Have you seen the road signs while driving on Indian roads? Better late than never! Any marathon runner would tell you to go slow at the start of the run to win the race. The experts in the job market and career coaches always told me to go slow in my job selection. My childhood story of the rabbit and the hare reminded me of the expected behaviour in complex decision-making situations- slow and steady wins the race. The constant advice given to me these days is to slow down as I age. Slow cooking is always good — I got this advice from my nephew, Pramodh, who is a brilliant cook and a strong proponent of slow cooking. ‘Grapevine’ tastes and appeals better after a lengthy brewing time.

What is correct? The truth is that both are good — in different places, for other things. I can only apply the same yardstick for some situations.

According to Mike Stevenson, a motivational speaker, only whisky, food, wine, cheese and craftsmanship need time to be great. The rest can be on a slow track.


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