He Who Hesitates

Last week I wrote about the wisdom in minding the gap that exists between a thought and action. The focus was on the kind of thoughts that would lead you to questionable actions, things that if done wouldn’t be considered to be in your or another person’s best interests—lashing out verbally in anger to a loved one instead of taking a moment to rethink what is about to come out of your mouth for instance. That gap between initial thought and reactive action can not only save us from doing something stupid or regrettable, it can also help us to make a better choice leading to success.

This week, I am going to go a different route.  My father would often say, “He who hesitates is lost.” 

Sometimes, and you know when it happens, a really good idea comes into your mind. But you hesitate to act on it. You second guess yourself when what you should be doing in jumping right in and taking action. Your higher self is telling you to do something that will in some way improve your life. And by higher self, I don’t mean high due to the ingestion of controlled substances. I mean those times when the idea that pops into your mind if acted on, will improve your life.  

My wife brought this idea to my attention after reading through my last post—she is my editor. And thank the heavens and all that is good, that she is. Believe me. if you enjoy reading these posts, you need to be extremely grateful to her for the content and line editing she does. I may be the writer with ideas, but she knows how to make sure they are presentable and presented correctly.  

In any case, she pointed out that sometimes we fill the gap between idea and action with justifications about why we shouldn’t or won’t act on a good idea that we have just had. Yes, stupid ideas that will lead to regret or danger should not be acted upon, but not all our ideas are stupid. Sometimes they are really good and that is when we miss out on the good that could result from hesitation and inaction.  

Let’s say you are with a group of friends and someone gets the idea to try ziplining. You, not being overly adventurous are nevertheless initially caught up in the excitement of your friends and think, “Yea, that would be so cool.” And yes, ziplining is cool and a whole lot of fun. I have had the opportunity to do it from mountaintop to mountain valley and what an experience! Nevertheless, in spite of your first thought of how fun it would be, that initial thought is quickly followed by your fear of being suspended on wire hundreds of feet in the air while traveling at speeds of over 60 miles an hour. So, what do you do? You hesitate and let your fears dictate your actions and override your initial thought of wanting to experience ziplining. You end up not going. Bummer.  

As much of a bummer as it is when you override a thought that would lead you to do something that would bring more zest to your life, it’s really a tragedy when you do it with thoughts that would result in achieving a goal you have—getting a better job, working on creating a closer relationship, writing that book, taking that vacation, introducing yourself to your neighbor.   

In such cases, we do no justice to ourselves by hesitating and letting our doubts and fears fill the gap. Good ideas should be acted on posthaste. Let’s continue to wait a bit on the stupid ones though.


Looking for a keynote speaker or presenter on why Thinking Taller is key to culture, employee engagement, and productivity? Let’s talk. I do more than write, sometimes I actually say something.  

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