Derek Sivers

from the book “”:

Let pedestrians define the walkways

2009-11-23

A new college campus was built, but one thing was still debated:

Where in the grass should we put the paved walkways?

Some people thought the walkways should go around the grass, to leave it green. Some thought the walkways should cut across diagonally.

One professor had the winning idea: Don’t make any walkways this year. At the end of the year, look where the grass has worn away. That shows where the students are walking. Then just pave those paths.

Brilliant.

I think about this idea applied to life plans or business plans.

As time goes on, we get smarter. We learn more about ourselves or our customers — what we or they really want. Therefore, we’re at our dumbest at the beginning, and at our smartest at the end.

So when should you make decisions? When you have the most information, when you’re at your smartest: as late as possible.

Like the college campus, you can do without walkways for a year.

Resist the urge to figure it all out in advance. Realize that now, in the beginning, is when you know the least.

When people expect you to make these decisions in advance, get used to saying, “We don’t know yet.” Then tell this simple story about walkways to show them how wise you are.