A good judge conceives quickly, judges slowly.

George Herbert, “Proverbs” in The Complete English Works, 274.

I love this one. The most insightful people I know are often able to see deeply into the heart of a problem with a shockingly small amount of data. Through education, experience, careful observation of how life works, strong diagnostic curiosity and tools, and humble wisdom, they’ve achieved a level of mastery that allows them to understand things quickly: “conceives quickly.”

Yet, they’ve probably been burned a few times by acting too quickly on their swift understanding, and have thereby learned to judge slowly. Even when they are relatively confident that their early diagnosis is accurate, they keep asking questions, keep listening, keep looking for that contrary bit of information that could radically change the clinical picture. Their slowness may frustrate you–but keep in mind that the vast majority of people make judgments too quickly–with a fraction of the data or the understanding they need to be able to make such judgments.

One other thought: an emergency changes the timeline. When the stakes are high, and time is short, the wise are able to recognize the emergency, accelerate the process, and do something quickly–hopefully the right thing.