Action bias and the power of waiting


Waiting in today’s world is an unpopular thing. It takes a lot of character to wait – to take our turns in the queue and to pause for others to lead the way. Fast food stores are one of the highest revenue earning food business because people like it quick. A family or group of friends are having a good time over lunch/dinner and it is normal to find almost everyone on their phones, trying to stay in touch with the fast world. “I cannot afford a moment’s wait because the world will leave me behind” – our minds kick.

But I’m not sure how much progress all these haste has brought to us. It seems to me that it’s a case of many movements and little motion.

You know, an Israeli scientist named Michael Bar-Eli did a study of penalty kicks in football and discovered that 94% of times, the goalkeepers dived either to the right or the left, even though the chances of stopping the ball were highest if the goalkeeper stayed at the center; right at the center without moving. As the Academic theorized, the goalies will rather dive to the left or right and miss the ball than stay static and appear to do nothing. They are afraid of inaction. Not taking action will be slack of them and not show any form of seriousness. “It’s better to look active even if it achieves nothing” — they say. What a waste!

And that points to many of us as well. We replace movements and entropy to motion and progress. We use hyperactivity to hide from the lack of clarity in our lives. That part of our brain that we inherited from our fore-fathers that acts before thinking still rules us – you know, then, when they hear the step of an animal in the wild, they don’t wait to see if it is a goat or a lion. They just run away. We inherited this frailty as an instruction in our genes.

Now, you need a break in your life. A waiting time to evaluate where you are going and if the ladder you are climbing swiftly on is leaning on the right wall. You need that break and have got to schedule it. Forget about the thought that makes you feel such times are a waste. They are not. Its okay to take a holiday and to relax and reflect and return back to work. It’s the reason why there’s a halftime in football matches.

Welcome back to work if you had a summer holiday and took that well deserved rest. It’s the last quarter of 2019 and the race is on.


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