“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”
– Thomas Sowell

I have to continually remind myself that life is about tradeoffs, not perfect solutions.

The quest for the perfect answer, solution or idea can paralyze you. You start to move forward but then get stuck once you start to second-guess yourself and wonder, “Is this the best solution? Or is there a better way?”

This has been an ongoing battle for me. Something that’s caused an enormous amount of stress and that has derailed me from reaching my goals.

And as I reflect on this I’ve realized a few things that I want to share with you today.

There are no perfect solutions, only tradeoffs

This is a hard pill for many of us to swallow. We’re confronted with a problem and we search for the “right” answer. If it’s a math problem, that’s ok. We know the right answer if the question is, “What is 7 x 3?”

But what about questions like:

  • “What should I focus on today?”
  • “What do we need to do to hit our sales goal this quarter?”
  • “How much time should I invest in this new venture?”

As an entrepreneur you have an endless amount of choices. Therefore, the “right answer” is less obvious. I would suggest to you that it doesn’t even exist (at least not to the same degree as the “right answer” to a math problem).

And this is why it’s important to remember that quote by Thomas Sowell who says:

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

This is also why you must get better at considering the best options available to you and then committing to one and moving forward. As you gain more experience this process will become more intuitive. But in the beginning it can feel hard.

It reminds me of the difference between chess grandmasters and amateur chess players.

When the grandmaster looks at the chess board he actually sees fewer options then the amateur player. That’s because after decades of practice he unconsciously filters out the bad options and only the best ones are brought to his attention for review.

Now consider the game you and I play: business. Think of all the experiences you’ve had, lessons you’ve learned and books you’ve read about your game.

“View work as a fun competitive game. To do this you must know the rules and purpose.”
– David Allen

Wouldn’t it be nice if your unconscious mind could deliver you the three best options to consider vs trying to look at 1,000 possible moves you could make?

How do you do that?

One way to do this is to give your conscious mind a break! You need to put yourself in a place where you can receive input from your unconscious mind.

This is why stress is so deadly to business owners. Stress blocks the flow of energy and information from your unconscious mind and places all the burden on your conscious mind.

So if you feel like you can’t afford to take a day off then you probably need two days off to relax. I know it’s hard, believe me, I struggle with this all the time. So I’m writing to myself here too. But I’ve seen the benefits of times when I’ve practiced “relaxed intensity” and I want more of it.