Isogaba maware
If you are in a hurry, go around

Have you ever been in a rush to get somewhere or to get something done, taken a shortcut, and then ended up taking longer than normal to do it? This often happens when you try to skip steps that are necessary to get the job done properly. The Japanese have an old and wise saying that addresses this situation.

Isogaba maware means, “If you are in a hurry, go around.” In other words, if you are in a hurry to get somewhere or get something done, don't try taking a shortcut. Take the time to do it right the first time and you will get it done faster than if you tried to cut corners. If you rush to get something done, you will end up screwing it up and having to do it again. When you are in a hurry, rather than taking a dangerous shortcut, taking the longer but safer route will eventually get you to your destination. Taking the dangerous shortcut, you might not.

This reminds me of the English saying, “Haste makes waste.” This also makes me think of the hobbit saying from The Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo suggests a shortcut and Pippen tells him, “Short cuts make long delays.” They end up taking the shortcut and almost don't make it to their destination alive.

So the next time you think about speeding to get to your destination remember, “Isogaba maware desu ne.” You do want to get there, right?

Usage note: Most Japanese sayings can be turned into complete sentences just by adding “desu” to the end. To add emphasis, add “desu yo”. To ask for agreements (think, “yeah,” “right,” “you know”), add “desu ne”.


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