My first thought is usually one I’ve shamelessly filched from someone else, a tidbit of conventional wisdom that hijacks my brain immediately after a problem presents itself. I envy people who can respond to the challenge of a difficult decision by saying “Let me sleep on it.” Some may see this as procrastination in disguise, but I view it as a sign of superior mind control and emotional balance. It offers the possibility that no short cuts will be taken and serious, thoughtful consideration will be given to the matter.
For folks like me who prefer the Easy Button, Malcolm Gladwell provided a much-needed defense. In his bestseller Blink, he introduces people in wide ranging professions who can make brilliant decisions nearly instantly. Why waste time mentally grinding down a problem when the first idea that pops to mind is probably the best?
Unfortunately, Malcolm also notes that most people are hopelessly inept at these snap judgments. As he explains it, quick thinkers are good at plucking out the few key factors that really matter while the rest of us are semi-paralyzed by the overwhelming number of choices that life presents. It’s much easier to choose between pizza and Chinese food for dinner than it is to decide “where we should eat?”