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It’s true that we very often have to make poor decisions, and work through the consequences of those decisions, before we have the data and the experience to make better decisions. 

It’s true that, as the saying goes, good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is often he result of bad judgment. 

But that doesn’t mean we should head out TRYING to make poor decisions just for the sake of the “experience.” 

That doesn’t mean our decision making should be impulsive or half baked. 

There is a certain kind of motivational speaker who really wants us to believe that “leaders make quick decisions,” even with “incomplete information.” 

That “leaders” can afford to make and act on these quick decisions, because they are also committed to assessing the consequences of their decisions, making adjustments, and making better decisions. 

Supposedly this mindset is the antidote to the paralyzed overthinker, who never makes a true decision because they’re worried about risk. 

Every single time I see this viewpoint advocated in self-help circles, I want to ask the person who is promoting it: “Do you really think it’s that simple?” 

I do not happen to think it’s that simple. 

I do not think more damage is done by people taking an extra breath, taking some extra time, and being more thoughtful about their decisions. 

I do not think that most people suffer more from the paralysis of overthinking, than they do from the consequences of impulsive, half-baked, emotionally driven decision making. 

The fact is, MOST people make MOST of their decisions fairly impulsively. 

They do this because they don’t feel like our modern world gives them a chance to breathe, let alone do serious, nuanced thinking (let alone soul searching!) about their decisions. 

Most people face a great deal of pressure every day. 

Pressure to “be” a certain person. 

Pressure to achieve certain things. 

Pressure to make a certain amount of money. 

Pressure to weigh a certain amount or fit into certain sizes of clothing. 

Most people live in a pressure cooker…and that pressure cooker does NOT lend itself to reflective, focused, values-driven decision making. 

Thus it baffles me that motivational speakers— especially those who do not have training in the behavioral sciences— think that most peoples’ problem is that they’re being TOO deliberate in their decision making. 

A big part of my job is to get people to be MORE thoughtful, MORE nuanced, and MORE deliberate in their decision making. 

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely felt a great deal of pressure throughout your life. 

You’ve maybe developed a lot of defense mechanisms to cope with that pressure— some of which have served you well, some of which may have created more problems than they’ve solved. 

What I want you to know is that you can develop the skill of slowing down. 

You can develop the skill of pushing the pause button. 

You can develop the skill of stepping away from the pressure cooker. 

It’s not easy, especially in our culture, and no one’s saying it is. 

But do NOT fall into the trap of believing that your desire to pause, to think, to consider, to check in with your goals and values and experiences, are actually part of the problem. 

Those instincts are not part of the problem. 

They are, quite literally, the solution.  

 

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