Many impatient people feel guilty for the way they are. They see their haste as a character flaw. But the truth is,impatience is a virtue, not a vice.
People who don’t plan are rock stars. They live confident, fun and happy lives and rarely have a problem making big life decisions. Obsessive planners are the opposite. This is because obsessive planning and waiting to take action erodes your confidence and decision-making abilities.
Life is better when you think big and take action. (Click here to tweet this quote.) But not everyone feels this way. A lot of people rely on obligation, passivity and herd mentality to get things done. As a result, they don’t get things done.
They set up systems saturated with meetings and committees until all any employee can see is an endless string of plans and plans to make plans. This death-by-committee lifestyle is what turns action-taking employees into wait-and-see rodents.
Human or lemming?
Business and individuals who plan obsessively by default will move forward — like lemmings over a cliff.
Research on groupthink, or herd mentality, shows that humans and other animals like fish, buffalo and birds collectively respond to environmental changes with low levels of cognition. Large groups are often led, not by the proactive choices of each individual, but by a large collection of dull responses.
At the same time, self-esteem studies show that the more pressure someone feels to fit in, the less self-respect they have. And the less self-respect they have, the more pressure they feel to fit in.
The cycle of trying to fit in with the herd and hating yourself for it traps a lot of people. Obsessive planning starts this cycle. The only way to get off the hamster wheel is to set action-taking as your new default state. This means being willing to fail and act before you’re ready.
Taking action fixes mistakes
Many of the brightest minds in business have tried the Marshmallow Challenge. The challenge works like this: People are divided into teams of four. Each team is given 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string and one marshmallow. Each team is given 18 minutes to build the tallest structure they can with marshmallow on top.
The results are surprising.
The worst performing groups include recent MBA graduates and CEOs of large organizations. One of the top performing groups is kindergarteners. Why?
The MBAs and CEO planned obsessively until time ran out, then hurried to build a tower of spaghetti and place a marshmallow on top, only to watch it crumble in the last second. The kindergarteners, being kids, took action and figured out what worked and what didn’t.
No plan survives contact with reality. Obsessive planning works against you in everything you do. Especially in today’s world. Things change too quickly.Testing is the new planning. And testing requires constant action-taking and constant adaptation.