The 365 Commitment

Day 192 – Long Delays are Never Clever

“though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been associated with long delays.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I have made my fair share of hasty, ill-advised decisions—some of them incredibly embarrassing. I think back on those moments and cringe at the stupid, brash, cavalier attitude that caused me to make that decision. However, I have also taken forever to make decisions, and those decisions have always had the worst outcomes. I would trade 100 hasty decisions for 1 prolonged one. The damage is always worse on the latter.

Now that I am older and looking back, I realize this simple fact more than ever. It is better to make quick decisions than long drawn-out decisions, regardless of the perception of the outcome. Faster decision-making universally beats a delayed process. In my younger days, I wanted to make sure that 2 out of 2 decisions were always the right ones. Now, I am shooting for 6 out of 10. Do the math 6 good decisions is better than 2, by 3X. People who learn to process decisions faster and with decent results are ultimately the ones who find the most success.

Excessive handwringing does not play well, nor does it look great. Decisive decision-making always plays well and exudes confidence. People will be upset with you for making a mistake, but people will never forget your indecisiveness. Error is on the side of mistakes, not on the side of caution. Give up on this notion that you would plot, plan, and pontificate on a decision-making process but rather come up with a decent one that is good enough and makes progress faster. Speed always wins, as long as it is focused and you learn quickly from your mistakes.

You think being precise and taking your time to weigh all the variables will produce better results. People will view you as clever, but in reality, you produce fewer results, and people will begin to avoid you because they do not like to tolerate delays. In my career, I have seen countless engineers, managers, and operations people spend significant time building the perfect mouse trap only to find that the business has moved on and times have changed when they finally get it done. There is a giant graveyard at every company where projects are completed, but nobody is around to use or appreciate them.

I think I would rather be labeled as making a stupid mistake than to be characterized someone who cannot get things done. Winners make mistakes. Others stand around hoping and waiting for their solution that reduces all risk.

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