THE STRATEGY OF WAITING
Not taking action can flip a problem by 180 degrees
Omdenken’s strategy of waiting is based on the following insight: when things happen to us, our ability to see them as ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’ depends highly on the circumstances. Our world is constantly changing and what first appears as a problem can turn quickly into an opportunity once the situation changes. The trick is to first accept reality as it is, and then to wait. Just wait, and let time pass. As always, time will do its work.
The Eiffel Tower
One of the most famous examples that shows the success of this strategy took place in Paris. In 1889, Paris hosted the World’s Fair. In honor of this auspicious occasion, the Eiffel Tower was built. Throughout the Fair the Tower was a success, attracting many visitors. After the Fair was over however, the visitor numbers began to drop. Officials decreased the price of admission but even that didn’t help to bring in the crowds. Eventually, nobody came to visit the Eiffel Tower at all.
From the beginning, the Parisians weren’t exactly over the moon about the massive, 317-meter-tall construction. Once the Tower had lost its official function as the symbol of the Fair, Parisians began to hate it. “It is ugly” they said. “It takes over our entire skyline” they pleaded. Due to the Tower’s impressive height, it was used as a communication mast complete with all manner of antennas, adding to its reputation as a major eye-sore.
As the years rolled by in the City of Light, the Tower slowly but surely became the symbol of Paris. What was once seen as an ugly duckling, grew to prominence as an architectural masterpiece eventually becoming one of the seven wonders of the world.
The Surgeon Case
Here is a second interesting example: imagine a surgeon who has a patient with a hernia. The doctor could choose to operate. Many doctors would indeed make that choice. But there is another way as well. The surgeon could also trust her instinct that the body will heal itself and, as a result, choose not to perform surgery. In this case the decision to NOT take action, to wait, observe, and let nature take its course is an excellent example of the strategy of waiting.
Take a Risk
Interestingly, our culture doesn’t really value not taking action. From the beginning of our lives, we are programmed to DO SOMETHING! Taking action is seen as a sign of strength and vitality. We have set up our entire culture to reward someone who takes action, as opposed to someone who does ‘nothing’. Think about bonus structures in companies. Nobody has ever been paid a bonus for deciding to do nothing. We prefer to make an effort, in an attempt to exert some control over our lives and we need our achievements to be specific and measurable.
Very often though, it is an illusion. Our attempts to take action, to control, to measure – only make the situation worse. Consider doing the opposite. Consider doing nothing. It doesn’t mean you are lazy or weak. It means you are willing to take a risk by trying a different strategy – the strategy of waiting.