When Less is More

I vividly remember asking a well-known professor if he would be on my dissertation committee. In my little academic world, he was godlike. Insanely productive and capable of giving feedback that could determine my career success.

I spent days crafting the perfect message to ask (more like beg) if he’d be willing to be on my committee. It was detailed and organized with no stone left unturned.

His response was simple. Literally one word: Committee?

He wanted to know who he would have to work with. I dutifully crafted a thorough response with perfectly cultivated profiles of the other committee members.

His response was again simple, and one word: Yes.

The contrast between my long-winded and detailed questions and his one-word responses sticks with me to this day.

Perhaps the reason he is so productive is that he doesn’t waste time. He gets to the source of the problem and makes a decision. In his case, as long as the other committee members were easy to work with, he was game.

We spend a great deal of time and energy talking through all the scenarios, options, and caveats. In some cases this is helpful, but in others, it’s a waste.

Get to the core of the issue first. Then make a decision.

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