In high school, I had a chemistry teacher who used to regularly offer his students the following advice when it came to solving complex problems:
Write. Don’t think.
The idea was that if one thought too much about something, or took in too much external data (excluding that found, say, on the paper of the smarter student sitting at the next desk over) or paused too long, he or she could freeze-up and never get started. This teacher’s strategy suggested that if one just got started on the problem, it would all work out.
Sidenote: This teacher was borderline insane.
The strategy of Write, Don’t Think never really worked for me when it came to chemistry – although it has certainly become something of a mantra when it comes to my blog writing.
There are times when it’s better to take in a lot of information first, and then to make a move later. On the other hand, there are times when it is more appropriate to just strap on the gloves and start punching.
Governing is better managed with the former strategy. Running for office (and/or beating the living crap out of someone) will benefit greatly when the latter is employed.
Here’s how a recent NY Times article describes John Kerry, the decision maker:
Mr. Kerry is a meticulous, deliberative decision maker, always demanding more information, calling around for advice, reading another document – acting, in short, as if he were still the Massachusetts prosecutor boning up for a case.
That is precisely what I want from a leader. Think First, Speak Later. Intellect over ideology. It’s tough for one person to understand all of the nuances of a complex issue. A president is somehow expected to understand the details required for a good decision when it comes to hundreds of problems and issues. Not possible.
That’s why pulling in the wisdom of the others in order to have the best possible information to get to the best possible answer is the right way to lead.
But as I mentioned earlier, it might be (for better or for worse) the wrong way to run.
Me? I took a totally different adage away from my year of high school chemistry.
Humanities, Not Science.