Thursday, January 6, 2011

“Hurry is the Counterfeit of Haste”

I spent much of the break between Christmas and New Year’s Day reading and researching one of my favorite authors, William George Jordan (1864-1928). He wrote several of motivational / self-improvement books (or rather booklets) in the early 1900s. One of his books, The Majesty of Calmness, has a chapter entitled, Hurry, the Scourge of America. He makes this interesting statement which I think is certainly applicable in our day-to-day activities, such as setting New Years goals.

Hurry is a counterfeit of haste. Haste has an ideal, a distinct aim to be realized by the quickest, direct methods. Haste has a single compass upon which it relies for direction and in harmony with which its course is determined. Hurry says: “I must move faster. I will get three compasses; I will have them different; I will be guided by all of them. One of them will probably be right.” Hurry never realizes that slow careful foundational work is the quickest in the end.

We are tempted to “hurry” when we feel impelled to achieve some goal and often take “short-cuts” that end up being “long-cuts” to the road to success. Take for example the case when we  don’t read the instructions when installing some new piece of electronic gadgetry and then after we’re all done it doesn’t work because we skipped some essential and usually simple but non-obvious step – of course I’m directing this at men, like me,  who have a genetic predisposition to avoid reading manuals.

As we make plans both personal and professional in the New Year, and then execute them let us reflect on the following (also from the same chapter in The Majesty of Calmness):

Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries. If you are sure you are right, do no let the voice of the world, or of friends, or of family swerve you for a moment from you purpose. Accept slow growth if it must be slow, and know the results must come, as you would accept the long, lonely hours of the night,—with absolute assurance that the heavy-leaded moments must bring the morning.

The Majesty of Calmness was published in 1900 and is no longer bound by copyright restrictions. See my post Books by William George Jordan for links to all of his books.

Below is one of my favorite quotes from each of the chapters. There are dozens more waiting for you. You can randomly pick any paragraph in the book and find a great quote:

Chapter I: The Majesty of Calmness
No man in the world ever attempted to wrong another without being injured in return,—someway, somehow, sometime.

Chapter II: Hurry the Scourge of America
Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries.

Chapter III: The Power of Personal Influence
Man’s conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,—is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,—is tremendous.

Chapter IV: The Dignity of Self-Reliance
Man can develop his self-reliance by seeking constantly to surpass himself. We try too much to surpass others. If we seek ever to surpass ourselves, we are moving on a uniform line of progress, that gives a harmonious unifying to our growth in all its parts.

Chapter V: Failure as a Success
Life is not really what comes to us, but what we get from it.

Chapter VI: Doing Our Best at All Times
The man who has a pessimist’s doubt of all things; who demands a certified guarantee of his future; who ever fears his work will not be recognized or appreciated; or that after all, it is really not worthwhile, will never live his best. He is dulling his capacity for real progress by his hypnotic course of excuses for inactivity, instead of a strong tonic of reasons for action.

Chapter VII: The Royal Road to Happiness
Content makes the world more comfortable for the individual, but it is the death-knell of progress. Man should be content with each step of progress merely as a station, discontented with it as a destination; contented with it as a step; discontented with it as a finality. There are times when a man should be content with what he has, but never with what he is.

Happy New everyone and best wishes for a great new year, personally and professionally.

PS. More info on the author can be found in an earlier post entitled William George Jordan – Author Extraordinaire.