Sam Radford

March 19, 2021

Mediocrity is always in a rush

I love a good quote. And this from British novelist and teacher Amelia Barr is a fine one. In her essay, A Successful Novelist, she writes:

Everything good needs time. Don’t do work in a hurry. Go into details; it pays in every way. Time means power for your work. Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with consideration. For genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly.

Mediocrity is always in a rush. There is a heap of truth in those six words! And a helpful explanation for why there’s so much average all around us: Somebody didn’t bother to take enough time.

Barr is speaking about writing, but the application goes beyond the crafting of sentences. Unconsidered work surrounds us in every profession you can imagine. Bad design, poor workmanship, lazy implementation – it knows no bounds. We rush, and the results are never good.

This speaks to me too: For genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly.

Wow! Taking the time to do something well is what makes us stand out from the rest. Success, in other words, is about doing the work. Hard work. No shortcuts. 

We need to learn to give our work the gift of time. Of consideration. Of patience. 

We tell ourselves we can’t afford to take our time, but if we want to produce work that stands the test of time, can we afford not to? 

–Sam