Paradox of Choice

Years ago I heard a story about a guy learning to water ski for the first time. 

He was having trouble getting up on the skis, on top of the water – a common challenge for newbies.  After several unsuccessful attempts, his buddies on the boat started shouting all kinds of ideas for him.  All at once.  All of them were seasoned skiers, and all of them spoke over themselves giving this guy ideas to help him succeed.  Likely all good advice. But not all at once.

Within a few seconds, the guy finally yelled, “Shut up!”

He then picked one guy and said, “You, and no one else, tell me what to do.”

He took the advice and came up at once on the next attempt. 

It’s most likely that each of his buddies had good ideas, but when it’s all coming at you at once, it’s all diluted by too many choices, with none of them standing out as one clear pathway to success.

He cleared the choices and chose one path. And it worked.

Zig Ziglar, famous sales trainer and motivational speaker, used to share the story of the lion tamer.  This person would go into the lion cage equipped with a pistol (just in case) and a chair.  The chair was what was used to “tame” the lion.  How? Simple. The chair has four points, meaning four points of focus – and we all know you cannot focus on four points at once. And neither can the lion.

Here in lies the paradox of choice.  For the lion, the options, or choices, created a paralyzing effect – leading to inaction.  A good thing for the lion tamer.  Not so much for us.

Unfortunately, many of us are carrying this same chair in our lives.  Too many options often mean no clear options.  What is the right sales technique? There are tons, but perhaps the best plan is to simply pick one and start swinging.  Just go and adjust as you go.

Get rid of the chair and start executing.  It’s not about wrong choices; it’s about choosing and making it right. 

Advice from years back: Make a decision and then make it right.