Indecision and the Negative Impact on Creativity


I occasionally encounter people who wallow in indecision. For whatever reason, they just cannot bring themselves to act or to make a choice. Some of you may have experienced the same thing. For  these people I have the perfect quote from William James: “When you have a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”

I think more people need to understand this. Whether or not you choose to make a choice, is in fact a choice. When you say, “There is nothing I can do,” you are saying, “I choose to do nothing.” When you say, “There is no other choice,” you are saying, “This is the option that I choose.” There are ALWAYS other options, you just may not like them at first blush.

Saying you have no options extinguishes the identification of alternative paths and ideas in your head.

The problem with making such restrictive, narrow statements is that by making them, you totally yourself from creativity. Such negative, restrictive statements send a signal to your brain to shut down the thought processes and cut off any and all sources of inspiration. This statement repeated in highly stressful circumstances could lead to feeling overwhelmed and desperate.  The resulting behavior can take  you down a path you later regret. I think this is what sometimes happens to business owners who encounter financial difficulty. They panic and stop actively making decisions. The default decision – do nothing – lets the downward spiral continue unchecked until it’s often too late.

When you tell yourself repeatedly that you have no other options, you stop yourself from seeing ANY of the myriad options that could present themselves. At the very least you flip flop and procrastinate. If you are trying to solve a difficult business problem, these thoughts  negatively impact creativity.

If you are stuck and going in circles, talk to someone. Another management team member, a key employee, a spouse, a friend or a friendly investor. Often others can help you put things in perspective. There rarely is a problem that no one else has experienced. But when you operate in isolation and keep bouncing things around in your head, it seems that way. Getting a fresh perspective can help you see the big picture and place your problems or issues back in the creative realm, where you can brainstorm a number of options to resolve them.