What I learned from a taxi driver

| Aug 29, 2010 | comment 4 Comments
This post is by Nagi Salloum, founder of Loomni, a Dubai based knowledge sharing & educational platform.

The original title of this post was “are you suffering from paralysis-by-analysis” because that’s the topic I am going to talk about.

Paralysis-by-analysis (also known as analysis paralysis) is when you can’t take any action because you’re over thinking the details, over analyzing or over planning.

Yesterday morning, I called up a taxi at 5 AM to go to the airport. I was greeted with a big smile by this young energetic Pakistani taxi driver. I asked him about the reason for his cheerful mood. Filled with enthusiasm, he started telling me about his life story and how he struggled to get where he is. He took pride telling me how he pulled himself out of total poverty by taking many small jobs. He emphasized that as a poor young man, he could not afford to have a lot of time to think or over analyze his next move. While he would try to do a benefits/risks analysis, he mostly followed his gut feel to proceed to the next best job. His secret, he said, was this:

“Something is better than nothing, because nothing is nothing. It’s important to do something.”

He kept busy all the time, and continuously searching for his next move. As a taxi driver, he is now saving money to go back to Pakistan and venture into his new business: buy a mini van that he plans to lease or rent.

As a small startup, you are very much like that taxi driver: young, poor, fragile, constantly in survival mode. While planning is definitely important when starting a new project or a business, it should not overwhelm us and prevent us from making a decision or taking action. My advice to overcome paralysis-by-analysis is to define your goal, state your choices, eliminate some options, and take action (“any action, because some action is better than no action” would say my taxi driver).

Instead of letting too much information paralyze you into inaction, get out there and make things happen. trust your gut feel and learn as you go.

So, are you taking action? or are you held back by paralysis-by-analysis?

Follow me on Twitter: @nagisalloum

Read other interesting posts on: nagi.loomni.com

  • http://www.tayiba.com Rachid Lakhal

    Nice Nagi…I am running a small startup and it took one year to get the first important customer. Thanks to Allah.
    I agree that action is important. Sometimes, we may get distracted by too much strategic planning, we need to move and take actions, no matter how small they are.
    Again, very nice article…

  • Khaled

    Great post. We all suffer from paralysis by analysis in many respects and it prevents us from achieving our full potential by draining our energy and taking too much of our time.

  • http://www.ebacha.com Tarek Mongy

    Great article. I think many people tend to over-analyse as you said, falling into the trap of over-analysis and never taking action. I like to think the best way to learn something is to do it. You might not get it right the first time, but you are sure to learn valuable lessons and vastly increase the chances of you getting it right the second time around. I see many people buying all sorts of books and spending years reading them before taking any action and I always try to tell them to just go out there and give it a try; you’ll learn more in a day than you would from a year’s worth of reading.

  • Sdgsdg

    A great way to achieve this is to set a date to make a choice after a short length of time, say, “next Monday”, and set it in stone. You get a few days to mull things over, and knowing that a deadline is looming really focuses your attention. When the day arrives, make the decision, and forget the rest.

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