Scott’s Thoughts: Wait & See

“Patience is also a form of action. ”

Auguste Rodin, sculptor (1840-1917)

Image of Rodin's THE THINKER“Do it yesterday.”

I’m not a huge fan of this phrase. Yes, the world is filled with unexpected deadlines, rush jobs, and true emergency. Yes, priorities shift and we often must conform to urgent demands. But there’s a counter-phrase I hear in my head every time someone says, “I want this done yesterday.” It goes something along the lines of: “Never let the urgent come at the expense of the important.”

In this world, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the pace of information. With the 24-hour news cycle, breaking text alerts, and trending hashtags on Twitter, it seems we’re expected to not only know about everything as it happens, but also have an opinion immediately. Take a side! Say what we believe! But information isn’t wisdom. Information is the urgent. And wisdom? It’s the important.

I definitely have a bias for action in my business and a high tolerance for educational mistakes. The ability to experiment, learn, and pivot when our experiments open up new opportunities is key to running an agile company. But action for action’s sake can be counterproductive. Being busy is a kind of modern drug and the cost of addiction can turn out to be awfully high.

Advertisers and marketers tell us every day that we’re in the attention economy. The most valuable asset right now is someone’s undivided attention. Buyers, consumers, executive decision-makers… we want to hold their interest, become their trusted source. It’s funny that when we’re on the other side of the equation we’re so frivolous with that same commodity. We flit from headline to headline, rush to meetings, immediately reply to email in the hopes of reaching “inbox zero.”

Rodin was a famous sculptor, thought by many to have revolutionized the art form. A sculptor has a unique appreciation for patience, reflection, and measured action. (Perhaps Rodin’s most famous piece is “The Thinker.”) When I see this piece, I am reminded of Rodin’s quote about patience and it centers me.

Let us not forget that the decision not to act is a kind of action. Let us remember today that wisdom comes from reflection, not raw information. Let us remember that sometimes the smartest response we can offer to “Do it yesterday!” is: “How about I get back with you tomorrow?”

There’s truth in it: Wait and see.


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