Managing the leap reflex

On my way to work, I need to make a left turn on a somewhat busy street.

If there’s no traffic, it’s easy. Stop at the stop sign, look and go.

And if there’s dense traffic, the decision is easy as well. Wait.

It’s interesting to note what happens when the traffic is intermittent, with a car every ten or twenty seconds. I’ll sit and wait, because the cars are on the edge of too close to each other. I mean, I could go, but it’s a high energy zoom to make it safely, and it’s easier to wait.

But… if the intermittent traffic continues, five cars, ten cars… all the same spacing… pretty soon, I’m more inclined to go for it.

This is a dumb strategy.

I shouldn’t let the persistence of the other cars push me to make a decision. Either it’s safe or it’s not.

Or consider the kid who climbs to the edge of the pool and stands there for a minute or two or five, toe in the water, thinking, waiting, being cajoled, and then, finally, jumping in.

Either it’s a good idea to jump in or it’s not. Skip the five minutes of discomfort.

And of course, this happens all the time with investing. Which is why so many investors end up buying high and selling low…

The smart self-management technique is to leap with intention. Don’t wait for a deadline. You pay a price for that. Don’t invite peer pressure. You pay a price for that. Don’t let the traffic wear you down–you might pay a huge price for that.

Managing our leaps is an essential part of innovation. In or out. Go or don’t go. But don’t hand the decision over to the market or to your peers. Professionals know when to leap.