Make Haste Slowly – 4 lessons we can take from the first successful South Pole Expedition – this week’s #CoffeewithColm, Episode 200

During the week myself and a couple of buddies kicked off a social singing club, called the Pay Day Singers Club in The Washer Woman, Ballina/Killaloe; aptly named Pay Day because it will happen every last Wednesday of the month (and it’ll be pay day by midnight), Singers because that’s what we invite everyone to do and Club because we want people to join 😉 Consider yourself invited any last Wednesday.

Anyhoo, in considering what to prepare I was reminded of an old John Denver song, “Friends with You” (link at the end) The lyrics:


“What a friend we have in time

Gives us children, makes us wine

Tells us what to take or leave behind


And the gifts of growing old

Are the stories to be told

Of the feelings more precious than gold


Friends I will remember you, think of you

Pray for you

And when another day is through

I’ll still be friends with you


Babies days are never long

Mother’s laugh is baby’s song

Gives us all the hope to carry on


Friends I will remember you, think of you

Pray for you

And when another day is through

I’ll still be friends with you.”


That first line struck a chord (no pun intended); “What a friend we have in time…” and I was reminded of a story I heard about how Roald Amundsen became the first human to reach the South Pole.

To find out where my head is on this, and to hear the four lessons, or principles, watch the video, listen to the podcast or read on below

Everything takes time. Everything. And time is the one truly irreplaceable resource you and I have as individuals; 1440 minutes gifted to us each day to use or while away as we choose – regardless of our choices, once the minute has passed, like the water rushing over a stone on a river bed, it is never coming back.

That said, I am not, never have and I hope never will be (God willing), advocating you invest every minute in chasing the almighty dollar. No sir. But I do want to discuss what I consider a proper use of time in this week’s “Coffee with Colm” episode.

You see, we have a friend in time. But we can never hurry it. Time, like a healthy river, flows – therein lies our first lesson – we need to get into flow.

Lesson 1: Learn to get into the flow

There isn’t one of us with a problem-free life and as I read somewhere, ‘There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to see, yet small enough to solve.’ The key is to find the right time and be patient when implementing the solution.

Inexperienced people expect problems to be settled instantly. But experienced people are like the master sculptor who keeps striking the marble block with steady blows of the hammer. Unlike the rookie who expects to split the stone with one blow, he knows if he just keeps working at it he will eventually succeed.

Patience is the second lesson. How many of us wish we could fix our ‘stuff’ NOW? Many of us I suspect.

Lesson 2: Develop patience

Given enough time we can achieve almost any destination so long as we keep moving forward. A friend made contact recently to say she really enjoyed my Letterkenny blog post (link at the end). Basically it talks of the fact that without a destination in mind, in this case achieving one’s life goals was metaphorically presented as arriving at the town of Letterkenny, in beautiful Donegal in the northwest corner of our beautiful home. You could walk to Letterkenny from wherever you are in the world if you so choose by putting one foot in front of the other and repeating until… of course there may be some planes or ferries thrown in, but you get the picture – the destination won’rt move, you must.

Why is it when life is not working out for people they tend to move faster, work harder, longer, rather than taking the time (there it is again) to figure out a destination first? Perhaps the best use of your time right now is to stop striving and figure out a destination?

Lesson 3: Use time wisely. Know your destination before you set out.

Make haste slowly.

Roald Amundsen beat Scott to the South Pole by making haste slowly.

He prepared – knew his destination, developed patience and got into the flow for TEN YEARS before he even set foot on the continent!

He applied my Letterkenny Principle (he probably didn’t all it that) to great effect – headed off in the right direction and kept stepping until…

Because of 24-hour daylight due to it being summer in the Southern Hemisphere, they had a goal to make progress at a rate of 15 nautical miles per day, then stop for 6 hours, another 15 nautical miles, stop for 6, repeat. They made the Pole, and entered the history books on 14th December 1911, by making haste slowly – starting in a focused way daily and stopping when the day was done. There and back in 99 days, 10 full days quicker than planned by making haste slowly and 33 days before Scott.

Scott was racing him. He didn’t know where Scott was, didn’t know whether or not he would arrive to find Scott’s ‘Na, na, na na na” note on a flag. Yes, Scott was racing Amundsen, but Amundsen wasn’t racing Scott.

Lesson 4: Make haste slowly.

Quick recap:

  1. Get into the flow
  2. Develop Patience
  3. Know where you are headed
  4. Make haste slowly

You know the phrase, ‘two steps forward and one back’? Sort of doesn’t matter, at least it’s progress – and who are you competing against anyway? Your competition is staring back at you from the mirror – be kind to your competition.

Amundsen’s competition wasn’t Scott, it was Amundsen.

My “Letterkenny” blog post – click here. (Letterkenny analogy at minute 9 of the video – it’s a long one because I was teaching a concept)

John Denver’s “Friends with You” – click here.


Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly.


Watch | Listen | Read | Think | Act

FANCY A COFFEE WITH COLM in ‘real’? I have been creating free weekly content for over three years now and am very happy to have the opportunity to do so. That said, if you enjoy my work, perhaps you might consider buying me the odd coffee to help defray the hidden costs around sourcing, creating, editing, uploading and sharing? Some pretty cool rewards await those who do! Check out my PATREON page here.

MORE: Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • The Parable of the Platypus and the Hedgehog – click here.
  • Lessons in change from the Moths of Manchester – click here.
  • The Glass is neither Half Full, nor Half Empty – It’s Refillable! – click here

BONUS: My infamous Man on the Train story…

  • The ‘Man on the Train’ story. How my fortunes changed through a seemingly random (is there any such thing?) meeting – click here.

FREE AUDIO BOOK. If would like a complimentary copy of my book “Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks” in audio, narrated by Yours Truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

LINKEDIN. Perhaps the thing to do right now is simply to hook up professionally on LinkedIn – if that’s of interest, click here.


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