Go fast, but think slow.

An acquaintance of mine made a comment during a polo scrimmage the other night that has been rolling around in the back of my thoughts ever since. A much more experienced player than me, this fellow knew his way around the field, but he was kind enough and passionate enough about sharing the sport he loved to take the time to share his experience with an inexperienced player.

He said that one of the goals of a polo player is to get to the point where you can “go fast, but think slow.” While an attractive thought, it seemed counterintuitive at first. It seemed to me that like computers, he who thinks fast, who processes information faster, can act faster and arrive at a solution sooner.

But on further thought I could see that he was in part referring to the fact that as you learn something, say the sport of polo. you begin to be able to discern what is important information and what is not. As this happens you actually have less information to process, as you automatically filter out the irrelevant data. And when the data is filtered, even if you maintained the same processing speed, that is, thought at the same rate, you would like arrive at a solution more quickly.

Experience in the game of polo, if rightly considered, allows you to ride fast and think slowly. If you don’t reflect on your experience, order it in your mind and apply that knowledge the next time you’re out there, you are doomed to repeat past mistakes, to get caught up “majoring in the minors”, and run out of time to think through the best course of action. If, however, you reflect on what you’ve learned – no matter what you are doing – you will, over time, find yourself making more and more efficient use of your time and efforts.


5 thoughts on “Go fast, but think slow.

  1. Joshua

    Perfect start to a Perfect day.
    Charged with much to accomplish, there is a certain serenity in considering moving fast and thinking slow. Slow and steady, keeps frenzy at bay.
    When rushed, we succumb emotionally, often making mistakes and broadcasting that emotional mess to our surround, making what could have been a pristine uplifting process into a empty shell, devoid of the spirit of fulfillment.
    Let this day be characterized by the wisdom of tranquility.
    Thanks Gregg!!!!


  2. Ernest

    This is a really interesting post today Gregg, as are the principles that you have introduced. It seems so simple doesn’t it yet those who get caught up in having to know everything before moving on to something often if not always get left behind while those who have learned to trust themselves and their ability to learn and adjust as they go along and gain experience are those who ultimately accomplish something worthwhile. One rule of thumb that I have learned to use over the years is to ask myself “where is the value” and what do I really need to know in order to provide something of value. As long as genuine value has been recognized than I can “go fast and think slow” with confidence.


  3. Dr Steven Ventola

    With those facing a seemingly life ending disease there is the tendency or urge to reflect on what is most important to actively major in the majors filtering out what does not matter. Whether someone is facing such a situation the cultivation of the intensity and passion to make one’s life worthwhile is fundamental.
    Stresses or challenges that arise can make one go limp or actually strengthened by them according to perspective. A perspective that brings the realization that one’s life has been designed for a specific purpose and time increases an awareness of what is pertinent and what is not.
    Thinking on “go fast, but think slow” can relate to the faster we let go of what is does not matter tempers our thought processes be in sync with what really does matter.


  4. Coco

    I read this somewhere, years ago, and I still believe it’s true, that mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience. We can learn from other’s experience as well. Where would forward movement be if we each had to make the same mistakes or couldn’t share each other’s wisdom, epiphanies and discoveries? That’s one of the values in reading, particularly the genres of biographies, self help and how-to books.


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