Go Ahead, Think It Over

Editor’s Note:

This valuable article should had been on line a few months ago, but I decided “To go ahead and think it over,” and also apply it in my daily life thoughts process and decision making by not returning some calls right away, stop production of videos for Ziba site, not writing my short stories and poems and postponing some decisions. The outcome was interesting, my mind begun to recognize itself and respecting my decisions of “go ahead think it over,” it began to persuade my intelligence in a special subliminal manner i.e. making me to look at the phone numbers and emails that gone unanswered to see where is coming from, callers identity and if any messages at all, or watching the number of visitors to Ziba site on the weekly basic and compare with last period and more importantly watching my own attitude change by being deprived of what I intellectually was enjoying to do before that. Then going back and reading the article again and reassessing my attitude and habits and behavior in a comparative manner.

I would like to share my learning experiences with you.

  1. I felt more in peace with my self by not rushing to judgment
  2. Buying myself sometimes to think is over before making decisions on the spot.
  3. Reading twice any documents that require my signature
  4. Allowing my mind to develop a new time table for my response time, problem solving, action-reaction, and interactions processes.
  5. Became to the realization that the world did not end with my delay, rather open windows of opportunity for better thinking and taking advantage of new opportunities.
  6. Appreciating self inner potential strength to be more acting, thinking, and doing things independently.
  7. It sharpened my instinct to recognize those moments that I needed to act fast and responsibly.
  8. To imprint in my memory a Permanent learning when to act on time or want to give yourself some time to think it over.
  9. Make me appreciate for what I have or have not.
  10. Take in sorrows, mistakes, and poor judgment, analyze them and allow myself to become a better and more mature person.

“Thinking it over” the least make you “think” and turn you from an mature scope diver to experience one to know how you can immerse and keep you alert, about you oxygen tank, depth and when you must heading to the surface of occasion, to touch reality again and another opportunity for “thinking is over.”

Is not life amazing and interesting enough? And you would rather staying around and thinking it is over rather than as the result of not thinking and go belly up in life.





Go Ahead, Think It Over

“Its very strange that the years teach us patience—that the shorter out time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” —Elizabeth Taylor

In the psychology department where I teach, the job interview for faculty positions includes a teaching demonstration in front of a classroom of undergraduates. Being a good lecturer does not come naturally to most people; it certainly doesn’t to me. The less experienced candidates know that they should probably interact with the students rather than just talk at them for an hour, but when they do pose a question to the class, they almost immediately answer it themselves—as though to cover for the lack of instant response by pretending that the question was rhetorical. As I have learned over the years, waiting in silence for a few seconds, or even longer, will usually bring the desired result—a comment from a student that gets some useful discussion going.

Frank Partnoy’s “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay” is about the value of waiting. His examples range widely, and so does the time scale of the delay involved: the elite baseball hitter’s ability to wait the extra milliseconds to “find” a pitch; the comedian’s ability to wait a few seconds to deliver a punchline; the skilled matchmaker’s advice that blind daters suppress their snap judgments and wait a full hour before deciding whether they might want to go on a second date; the innovative company’s ability to hang on to creative ideas, for months or even years, until they pay off. “We are hard-wired to react quickly,” Mr. Partnoy says. “Modern society taps into that hardwiring, tempting us to respond instantly to all kinds of information and demands. Yet we are often better off resisting both biology and technology.

The combination of biology and technology famously got Rep. Anthony Weiner in trouble when he tweeted saucy pictures of himself to female fans. For Mr. Partnoy, the episode shows how not to apologize for a transgression. Mr. Weiner issued a series of quick denials, only to have to admit what he had done later, when it was too late.

Mr. Weiner would have done better to follow the example of Sen. Fred Thompson, who was caught in a morning hearing making an unsupported allegation of corruption about President Bill Clinton. Rather than issue denials in the face of mounting evidence throughout the day showing that he was wrong, he admitted his mistake. But he didn’t do so right away, in the heat of battle. A quick move might have made his apology seem insincere or merely strategic. Instead, he waited until the evening, when he had gathered his thoughts, and issued a statement that included a principle for others who might find themselves in his position: “If you have to eat crow . . . it’s better to eat it warm than cold.” Warm, Mr. Partnoy emphasizes, not hot.

The story of how the Post-It Note was developed at 3M is a classic case in the business innovation canon. Mr. Partnoy recounts how the inventors of a new adhesive, casting about for ways to use it, were inspired to create bookmarks that would stick inside a book but leave no residue. The management at 3M thought the bookmark market was too small to pursue. Employees at the company eventually started to use the sample “bookmarks” for writing notes—completing the creative act by discovering a valuable purpose for the invention. The story is said to show the value of serendipity, or perseverance, or the eureka moment.

In Mr. Partnoy’s telling, however, the moral is different. He focuses on the 12-year delay between the invention of the adhesive and the launch of the notepad product, emphasizing that the inventors and the company were content to wait and keep the project alive in the hope that something would come of it. 3M’s policy of letting employees use 15% of their time for new projects, later one-upped by Google’s 20% time policy (since eliminated), may have had something to do with its ability to delay gratification.

But too much waiting can’t be good, can it? Mr. Partnoy is not so sure. He recommends waiting until the last possible moment to make decisions or take positions, on the grounds that waiting gives you the benefit of all the time you possess, allowing ideas to form and thoughts to coalesce. He cites technology investor and guru Paul Graham, who notes that even when we are procrastinating we are not doing nothing—we are doing something other than what we are “supposed” to be doing. Sometimes the task we avoid turns out to be less important than the one we choose to focus on. And perhaps other people will do the things we are avoiding!

These strategies don’t always work, of course. Delaying a task could mean forgetting important information when we finally get around to doing it. Procrastinating can leave you with a meticulously organized closet but no money left to buy clothes after you pay the late fees to the IRS and return the advance on your novel. Paradoxically, minimizing important commitments can be a bad strategy for the procrastinator, since he will then have proportionally more unimportant things to capture his time and attention.

Mr. Partnoy’s intention in “Wait” is to take on those who evangelize the power of thinking quickly, “getting things done” and leading an organized life. We can praise efficiency (“Bob answers every email,” “he always gives you a quick decision,” “he never misses a deadline”) but fail to take note of what is sacrificed in its name. (We rarely hear “Bob’s emails never say anything interesting,” “he doesn’t seem to think very deeply about the matters” or “his work is on time but never more than competent.”) “Wait” offers a valuable counterweight to this attitude, reminding us that quality should matter as much as speed.

Anthony Weiner waited too long to come clean. But how could he have known how long to wait—how long to let the crow simmer before he ate it? Should companies let all projects continue indefinitely without any financial return? What is the secret to timing your baseball swing or tennis return perfectly? Should I have finished this review the day it was due, or three days early, or two days late? “Wait” doesn’t say, because there is no formula for getting the right answer.

Early on, Mr. Partnoy explains that the high-frequency trading firm UMX reached an epiphany when it decided to move its operations from California to New York in order to reduce the execution delay on its orders from 65 milliseconds to 30. (It takes time to send messages through wires as well as to do the ancillary information processing required.) After the move, execution was faster, but profits were lower. This profit-shift could have been caused by a change in market conditions that coincided with the move, so the firm added an artificial 35-millisecond delay back into its operations, and the system returned to its previous level of profitability.

In the kind of trading that UNX did, waiting (a tiny bit) was a more profitable strategy than going as fast as possible. But, as Mr. Partnoy notes, high-frequency traders “live in a complex ecosystem where hundreds of computer algorithms react to each others’ strategies. . . . Sometimes there is a first-mover disadvantage.” As it turned out, 65 milliseconds was the optimal delay only “for a relatively brief period in 2008.” What was surprising was that any kind of unforced delay turned out to be beneficial, even if only for a few weeks.

“Wait” does not peddle secrets of success, though it does contain some inspirational quotes for the slow-at-heart. (“Don’t just do something, stand there” is one of my favorites.) The book succeeds most when it directs our attention to the range of situations where delay has value and when it counters the widespread intuition that faster is always better.

Mr. Partnoy quotes the psychologist Robert Sternberg: “The essence of intelligence would seem to be in knowing when to think and act quickly, and knowing when to think and act slowly.” Taking some extra time to think about when to take extra time could pay off handsomely. In the long run, of course.


— Mr. Chabris is a psychology professor at Union Collage and co-author of: the Invisible Gorilla, and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us.” A version of this article appeared June 23,2012, on page C7 in the U.S edition of the Wall Street Journal, with the headline: GO Ahead, Think It Over.

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