It happens all the time, decision paralysis: the inability to make up one’s mind. There’s the driver, lacking in confidence or experience, who is unable to make a left turn across traffic. The politician who won’t cast a vote for fear of repercussions from voters, donors or colleagues. And, familiar to most all of us, the boss or client who sits on your proposal because he or she is too insecure to disrupt the status quo or risk taking the proverbial one step backward to move two steps forward.
Frustration is the emotional collateral damage of decision paralysis. Much worse, though, are the unrecoverable consequences: hindered progress and missed opportunity.
The next time your patience is tried by a wimp of a boss or client, consider discreetly offering one of these observations:
- “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt
- “Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Anonymous
- “You can’t get to second with your foot on first.”
Need a visual metaphor? Photography expresses the value of quick decisions. Master photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for his ability to capture the instant – or “decisive moment” to create the best image. (The photo above is a classic example.) “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression,” Cartier-Bresson said.
When it’s all said and done, the best decisions are made and the worst are not. Time is too precious and non-renewable to waste. So, if you dare to take a risk of your own, you can tell your risk-adverse boss or client: “The next best thing to a “yes” is a quick “no.”
Swish…… Just Do It
I love the flat squirrel quote.
This should be required reading for Hollywood. Most of the industry is governed by fear yet, ironically, the individuals who dare to trust their instincts and take risks, reap the biggest rewards and leave lasting legacies.
Yep, Hollywood definitely abuses the “follow the leader” mentality. Thankfully Seinfeld, Charlie Kaufman, Wes Anderson and a few other innovators still break new ground for the followers.
Love it. Great insight, as always.
I love your writing….and great squirrel quote.
Thanks Kathy. I appreciate your FB posts, which on more than one occasion have inspired new essays.
This one will stay with me.
Vote three on the “flat squirrel” quote. My experience has been that- sometimes when I’m stuck in indecision- just choosing a direction is more right than choosing the “correct” thing. Just moving.
Corollary to the photographer analogy- is a good photographer does not see the world through the camera viewfinder, he/she is looking with the other eye (learned this from my son!)
What an elegant, visual and incisive piece! The metaphors and quotes are great. And a 4th hand up for the squirrel image (most visceral!).