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Study Long, Study Wrong

Taking too long to make a decision can be harmful.

Every day we are faced with making decisions about one thing or another. Should we go out to eat or stay home? Should we send Elmer to public or private school? Should I take the job in Dallas or Nashville? Should we buy the Buick or the Fiat? Should I marry Hazel or Rose?

We’ll analyze and agonize over the choices we have to make, so much so that we paralyze ourselves into inaction and make no decision at all. Paralysis by analysis is what some people call this condition.

Some chess players commit the same mistake during a game. We’ve all seen them. They contemplate, look, touch, gesture, grunt and so on and so forth. They take forever to make one move. Taking time to evaluate the position is one thing, but some people go to the extreme. They over think so much that they end up back where they started in their decision-making process. Let me be clear, the people I’m referring to are people that have already logically and critically thought things out and have gathered all the facts needed to make a well-informed choice. And after all of that they still can’t come to a decision. This malady can have serious consequences and actually stunt any progress toward success.

This condition is what philosopher Jean Buridan’s paradox is based on. After his experiment, he concluded that when a donkey is placed between two identical and equidistant piles of hay, the donkey is unsure of which pile to choose and ultimately dies of hunger. This paradox, known as Buridan’s Ass, epitomizes how some people act when faced with a simple decision. Similar to the donkey, people actually come to a decision which is not to make a decision at all. People that are double minded or vacillate between two choices like Buridan’s donkey are ultimately viewed as incompetent and untrustworthy. 

In order to succeed in chess and life in particular, your decisions must be quick and bold. Firm decision making gives the impression that you know what you are doing and that what you are doing is the correct course of action. However, first you must gather all the necessary facts and information. Do what chess players do, visualize the possible outcomes and how they’ll play out in the end. Think them through, and then make the decision. If you believe it’s the right call then you must execute it with cold-blooded precision. If it proves to be the wrong choice, no worries; it just proves that you are not omniscient. Just recover and start the decision-making process again. This not only will get you to the top, but it will also keep you there.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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