Reaching Conclusions

As events unfold, it’s human nature to interpret situations quickly and reach immediate conclusions.  We tend to judge swiftly and prefer the binary view of good/bad, happy/sad, or win/lose.

In today’s complex world, reaching early conclusions can cloud your judgment and lure you away from achievement.  One of my favorite Zen parables illustrates this beautifully:

A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.

All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses. The man and his son corralled all 21 horses.

All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

When you let go of conclusions, you unlock potential.  Do not fall into the trap whereby lazy thinking derails your ability to seize a situation’s full potential.

When things happen, it’s best look at them as information rather concluding victory or defeat.  A setback should often be seen as merely an important data point helping you reach a stronger conclusion; it’s not always a crushing, insurmountable blow.

Most situations present infinite possibilities.  You have a far greater ability to affect the outcome if you open yourself to new perspectives.  A conclusion is too often an unnecessary early ending.  It’s like walking off the basketball court and admitting defeat because you are down 12 points in the third quarter.

In business – and life – it ain’t over ‘till it’s over.