I had a long discussion on this topic this weekend with my friend Srikanth Rajan of SmartKapital.
Let me get right to the point:
What is one of the biggest side-effect of information overload?
It has to be that as a society we are moving towards lacking depth and loving every bit of that experience.
The genesis of the problem
Information overload in simple terms too much information coming at you. That itself cannot be the problem because you will consume only whatever you want to consume. The discernment of what to consume and what not to consume of course is definitely the genesis of the problem. To add to that, how much time you need to spend consuming vs how much time you need to be acting adds another dimension to this.
Unregulated information consumption can lead to many things and one of them unfortunately is the analysis paralysis problem – you can ALWAYS look for more data and facts before you decide to take certain action. When you find some more data and facts, you can again go and find some more data and facts to ensure that you make the RIGHT move. Soon, you will find something to show that the time to act has passed and you need to go back to the whiteboard on a new quest.
So, what does this lead to?
More variety of knowledge and less action.
But, but… action is where the magic is:
This is common sense 101 of course.
But let’s spend a couple of minutes on it.
Why is it hard for you to act?
There is one simple reason, of course. But, one thing is for sure – it is safer to keep preparing than it is to act. If you think about it, there is no major failure possibility when you are preparing. Nobody complains about a catastrophic failure in learning. Nobody feels ashamed if there is a breakdown in learning.
But, failure while you are acting – not many people can take it. Not many people watch or track your learning. It’s sort of semi-private. But that’s not the case when you are going after something – Acting. It is generally more public and you “might” think you owe an explanation to people when you fail.
Long story short – you might just skip the acting part and keep continuing to learn so one day when you are “fully” prepared, you can act.
You are (probably) deep inside
I wanted to say – be careful, don’t get sucked into the trap. But, unfortunately, you (or someone you are close to) may be deep inside. And.. you may not know it. Why? Because lot of people around you might be deep inside too, making it look OK to be where you are.
The goal is not to get trapped – the goal has to be get out of the trap that you might already be in.
The “action” litmus test
It’s easy to check whether you are really in the trap or not. Just answer this simple question:
If I ask one of your close friends about the “high stakes” projects you are involved in this year, what will be their answer?
If the answer is not pretty, then you are playing it too safe. Like I said before, the view may be awesome from the sidelines, but it can rarely match the experience on the court!