Festine Lente ... Make Haste Slowly


My son is a History professor, who works on the Italian Renaissance. I sometimes wonder how that world relates to our world and, in particular, the work I do.

Recently, as we walked through the Boboli gardens in Florence, I was particularly impressed by the Grotto of Buontalenti. If you look closely at the picture of the grotto above, you will notice the small turtle with a sail on his back on each side of the façade above and framing the entrance. This, my son explained, was the image used by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici to illustrate his motto “festine lente”, the Latin for “make haste slowly”.

Make haste slowly, an ancient maxim popular in the Renaissance, is an oxymoron. Perhaps that’s what got my attention and I reflected upon it as we toured the gardens.

The image of the turtle clearly evokes a sense of diligence and intentional movement. And we all know the fable about the hare and the tortoise (or turtle) where the turtle does in fact win the race. The turtle in the Medici image is assisted by a sail to enhance his movement - to address urgent needs. The image calls to mind the important balance between urgency and diligence which achieves effective results.

It struck me that festine lente is exactly the approach that works best when carrying out philanthropy in a strategic way.

When I work with clients, they often want to start immediately on making donations. But like the turtle, we take the time to engage in the rigor of identifying values and interests and clarifying desired impact. This provides a framework from which we can thoughtfully and with alacrity identify causes and provide resources of time, talent and treasure to make positive change.

Like the turtle with his sail, we achieve a balance between attention to detail and zeal, festine lente, that results in meaningful and rewarding philanthropy.

As a philanthropy advisor, I work with families and individuals to create and facilitate a safe and productive environment to articulate values, interests and goals. Together we develop and implement a plan to make giving meaningful, satisfying and effective.

For more information on how I work with clients to assist them to give with heart and for impact please visit the approach and services pages on my website.