“It rarely matters what you decide,” a business associate advised me many years ago. “What’s most important is that you decide something.” At the time, the wisdom of that comment was lost on me. Yet the thought stayed with me and I’ve gradually grown to understand and appreciate it.
Don’t Confuse Thinking and Acting. Many people, myself included, have a tendency to think some things to death. What may appear to be a prudent consideration of the possibilities is often “Perfectionist Paralysis” in disguise. By waiting until every last detail is thought out perfectly, a perfectionist can lose important ground while standing still.
If you want results, action is a must. By itself, thinking never accomplished anything. How can you tell the difference between Perfection Paralysis and being sensibly cautious? Ask yourself a few questions:
What’s the Downside? Do you have a pretty good idea of the worst that could happen if things don’t go as you expect? The lower the risk, the less important it is to agonize over every little detail.
What’s the Upside? The greater the opportunity, the greater the importance of acting quickly. If you don’t, your competition probably will. And competition or not, every day you let pass without pursuing the new opportunity is money lost.
What’s Missing? Many times when I’m wrestling with a decision, I eventually realize that it’s not a case of thinking through the information at hand – but rather a key piece of information is missing.
When charting new waters, ask yourself “What’s missing?” early in the process. If you don’t know where to turn for the information you need, ask everyone you know who might point you in the right direction. A few well-placed phone calls can usually save you hours of searching for the answers yourself.
Ride Your Bicycle. Once you’re comfortable that you’ve set a good direction, stop worrying if it’s the best one. People learn by doing, so the quickest way to get to “best” is usually to dive in.
Remember, no one ever learned to ride a bicycle by thinking, by asking questions of experienced bicyclists or by reading a book. Sometimes the best way to conquer new territory is to just do it!