7/17/18

It's almost never now or never

Elvis was my first idol. He was from my parents' generation rather than my own, but the music got a hold of me from the start. And his looks!


You have most likely heard him sing: 

It's now or never,
Come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling,
Be mine tonight

Romantic, isn't it?

Now or never can also be dramatic. Just listen to sports commentators.
 It's now or never, if she doesn't score now the team will be out of the tournament!
If he misses this penalty he will regret it for the rest of his life, it is now or never! 

And of course.

Marketing.

In marketing the pressure to act immediately is used all the time:
This is your last chance, the offer ends today!
It works. We react. We get stressed and take actions and decisions without spending much time thinking about alternatives or consequences.

Hans Rosling describes this well in his book Factfulness. 

"I Nacala 1981 ägnade jag flera dagar åt att noggrant undersöka sjukdomen, men mindre än en minut att fundera över konsekvenserna av att spärra av vägen. [...] I brådskan att "göra någonting" gjorde jag något förfärligt."

My translation:

"In Nacala 1981 I spent several days carefully examining the disease, but less than a minute to think about the consequences of closing the road. [...] In the rush to "do something" I did something terrible."


Do you do things, because you are in a hurry and believe "doing anything" is better than thinking a while before taking action? 
If you do, you are not alone. Do you recognize any of these scenarios?
The project is late, we should order overtime for everyone starting now!
Our costs keep going up. We must outsource X and Y to low cost countries! 
Such actions are just "paper actions". They look good on paper but more often than not they cause more damage than the problem they are meant to solve.

In the book Factfulness, Hans Rosling calls this rushed behaviour Akutinstinkten, the emergency instinct. This instinct was very important many generations back. The ones who stopped to think when the sabertoothed tiger came running, did not become our ancestors. They became tiger food. Our ancestors reacted fast and got out of the way. So yes, once upon a time our ability to react quickly, saved our lives. Nowadays the same behaviour gets us in trouble.
The problems we face today are often less urgent but more complex. They are better handled by thinking before acting. 
This does not mean we should over-analyze. Often it is enough to stop and think just a short while before we take action. Making sure we have understood what problem we are solving, before we choose the solution.

Resist the urge to act before you think.
There is enough time to think before acting. As you take time to think, you will notice that you end up with more time since your actions will be more efficient. 
Or, as Wallace D Wattles  put it in the book The science of getting rich:
Go as fast as you can, but never hurry.

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