In today’s BBTL book entry, Chet writes of indecision – the delay in decision-making resulting from overthinking a situation. We’ve all been a victim of it and, most likely, been guilty of it as well.
Analysis paralysis, as it’s often called, comes from an overload of options that renders us unable and/or unwilling to reach a decision. With only one option available to him, the cat in Aesop’s fable, The Fox and the Cat, quickly scampers up a tree when he hears the hunters and their fast approaching hounds. But the fox, having boasted of his “sack full of tricks” for escaping, is unable to decide among his too many options and is caught up by the hounds.
As Chet observes, we live in an age of endless data; a world with more access to high-quality information and analytics than ever before. But it hasn’t made decision-making any easier. Instead, rather than empowering us to make better choices, this seemingly unlimited information leads to an even greater fear of making the wrong decision. In the end, it boils down to fear.
We try to hide from this fear behind ideas such as the need for “consensus building,” but such delay tactics merely consume more time and resources, without adding any real value. Most often, the missed opportunity resulting from this pursuit of perfection costs us more than any imperfect action. As we studied yesterday, delay is not the answer. Ironically, the antidote to the fear of action is action itself.
When describing Theodore Roosevelt, a man of action if ever there was, the journalist Alfred Henry Lewis wrote, “The best thing to do is the right thing; the next best is to do the wrong thing; the worst thing of all is to stand perfectly still.”
This appreciation of the need to act in the face of uncertainty reminds me of Rachel’s recommendation way back on Day 143.
When addressing a young softball catcher’s “deer in the headlights” tendency to hold onto the ball, rather than make a mistake, she would coach them CCD: “If you hold the ball, you don’t get better. If you throw it and you’re wrong, we learn and grow. Action provides more feedback than inaction. Err on the side of acting, always. Throw the damn ball.”
“Throw the damn ball.” So good.