I was boiling a pot of ginger tea for my cold today and noticed how in my impatience I nearly turned the heat up to max. Some things, just can’t be rushed though. Where rushing has no value or even worse, negative value. This is true whether you are brewing tea, building trust or developing a skill. Increasing the fire makes the water boil faster, but the tea is not brewed. Brewing takes time.


You can’t approach everything the same way that you do last minute Christmas shopping or a procrastinated work presentation. Intensity alone cannot make up for time. There are certain things that can be “executed”. That can be done by knowing what needs to be done and then following through quickly.

And, there are those things that must be allowed to “grow”. Allowed to “emerge” after all the ingredients are put in. Like a pot of herbal tea, a cake or a vegetable garden. Where sufficient time is a necessary condition for a process of integration, germination and growth. Where it may not be possible to be exact about when the thing might “flower” or “pop”.

Organic process

Certainly, we must select the right ingredients and create the appropriate conditions with care. However, we usually cannot rush the tea to brew or our plants to grow. And, it is this organic element of the process that we can so easily forget. So easily lose sight of in our technologically augmented world of instant gratification. Where quick results are the order of the day.

We need to remember that an organic process takes a certain, context-dependent, amount of time. It cannot be instantly realisable. Not everything can be bought off-the-shelf.

Not just about quality

Time, here, is not just about compromising quality. It is more about a maturing or coming into fruition. Doubling the heat when baking is not going to simply give you a less-tasty cake. You will most likely burn it. It will be inedible. And, we need to know what kind of situation we are in. Doubling intensity to hit a work project deadline is not the same as troubleshooting a complex problem, or generating innovative ideas.

With a work project for example, higher intensity might get it done quicker with some loss of quality. But, with complex problems or idea generation on the other hand, things are not that straightforward. It is not a simple time-quality relationship. There will be a threshold when things come into fruition. The result can be much more binary when an organic ‘brewing’ process is involved. There is a gestation period and then something appears. It is not simply a continuum of quality based on how much time you put in.

And, while time is a factor in more organic processes, it may not be straightforward to predict how long something will take to emerge.

Some things just can’t be rushed

Of course, we must not forget intensity in all of this. The trick is to know what kind of activity you are engaged in. You can certainly give more and do more in less time, with some quality implications. The real question is knowing when such an approach is useful. And, when it is not just about trading-off quality for time.

Sometimes, we really have to let things brew and emerge, Remember that some things, just can’t be rushed.


Find out more about Harsha’s work