Ji Wenzi always thought three times before taking action. When he heard this, Confucius said: “Twice is quite sufficient.”
It’s never easy to make a major decision. You’ll never have enough information to be entirely sure it’s the right one. And you won’t have to try too hard to find myriad reasons for postponing it if you are reluctant to take the leap.
The longer you delay a decision, the more you’ll gum up the works by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty both within your own head and among your colleagues and staff. It’s better to say a definitive no to whatever action you’re considering rather than spend day after day mulling it over in your mind and pulling in more and more people for their opinions. At least that way, everyone can move on and get on with things without having the daily work paralyzed by your procrastination.
If you choose to go ahead with your plans, don’t even think about second guessing your decision. Simply by moving ahead with it, you’ll create renewed momentum in your business and open up new opportunities that you’d never previously considered were possible. Chances are that your only cause for regret will be that you didn’t take the leap earlier.
This article features a translation of Chapter 20 of Book 5 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 5 here.
(1) Ji Wenzi (季文子) was the most influential minister in Confucius’s home state of Lu between 600 and 568 BCE. He was also head of the Three Families that ran the state in reality if not in name. You can read more about Ji Wenzi here.
I took this image at the Tainan Confucius Temple.