Haste Makes Waste

September 22, 2011 at 1:52 am | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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Translated by Natashe Huang


Why Jing Gong ended up reaching the capital a day later than the carriage.

The saying “Haste makes waste” originated from Analects, in a conversation between Confucius and his disciple Zi Xia.

When Zi Xia was assigned to Ju County of the state of Lu (currently Shandong Province), he went to see Confucius and wanted to discuss governance.

“Teacher, what should I do to manage a place?”

“Haste makes waste. You would pay no attention to the small gains in front of you, but concentrate on huge benefits later on,” answered Confucius.

What did Confucius mean, then? When doing things, isn’t it true, the faster the better? In reality, it is not so.

Being speedy does not help to make us reach our goal faster. I know someone who is very speedy in doing everything. Once, she tried to wash dishes. She did not even bother to look at what was there and moved all the dirty dishes into the kitchen. After she did that, all one could see was a mountain of dishes in the sink. Then, she washed everything quickly, including some clean dishes and cups. In the end, not only were the dirty dishes still greasy, but also the clean dishes got dirty. Eventually, all the dishes had to be washed again.

If she had slowed down and done a good job in washing only the dirty dishes, she would not have had to wash the clean dishes and no one would have needed to re-wash all the dishes again.

Once, I watched a 3-year-old child trying to unravel a ball of yarn. Because the child did not spend the time to find the beginning of the yarn, the harder he pulled the yarn, the messier it got. He was so frustrated that he cried.

Of course, we are not small children. However, if we could calm down to think about the task we intend to start, it would save us a lot of time and energy in the long run.

When we concentrate on being speedy, our hasty hearts can easily complicate things. A calm mood enables us to see organisation out of chaos and turn complexity into simplicity.

One of my students likes to do things fast. He writes very quickly and his strokes are very messy. Even though he does more exercises than the others, his scores are not getting better. If he could pay more attention to his work and really absorb what he learns, he would make better progress in his studies.

One winter, I wanted to go into town. I asked my little helper to bundle quite a few books and follow me. When we got to the riverbank, the sun was about to set. It was about two miles away from the city gate. My little helper asked the man on the ferryboat: “Can we get into the city before the gate closes?”

The man looked at my little helper and said: “Yes, but only if you walk slowly and carefully will the gate still be open for you. However, if you walk in a hurry, the gate will be closed.”

I was angry with the man and thought he was making fun of us. I walked quite fast. Half way through, my little helper tripped and he watched all the books fall all over the street, and he cried. By the time he collected all the books and bundled them up again, the city gate had closed. I was very frustrated and suddenly recalled what the man on the ferryboat said, which was very logical.

During the Spring and Autumn Period, the King of Qi, Jing Gong, was well-known for being kind and virtuous. One day, while he was touring the state, he heard that Prime Minister Yan Ying was seriously ill. Jing Gong was very anxious to go back to see Yan Ying, so he ordered the fastest carriage. However, he was so anxious that he kept complaining about the carriage being too slow. He even took over the reins himself. Finally, Jing Gong gave up the carriage and walked fast instead.

It was learned that Jing Gong’s fast walk was much slower than the carriage. He ended up reaching the capital a day later than the carriage.

The above stories show us “haste makes waste”. When we try to do things in a hurry, we are likely to end up with poor results.


Source: http://en.kanzhongguo.com/lifestyles_entertainment/haste_makes_waste.html


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