Quantum Decisions

There are many things that I know very little about, but nonetheless fascinate me. Of these, Physics is near the top of the list. The idea that every day really smart people are discovering more and more about the nature of the world we live in is comforting to me. I’m glad someone’s on that.

A century ago Isaac Newton’s ideas ran the show. As a non-expert (and how!), I would sum up Newtonian physics as “Either/Or”: either an object is moving or it isn’t; either light is a particle or a wave; either we are in one place or we’re in another.

Then along comes Albert Einstein with Quantum Physics. His approach was “Both/And”: an object is both moving and it isn’t; light is both a particle and a wave; we are both in one place and another.

The Newtonian world was black and white. The Quantum world is shades of gray.

The answer to any question for Newton was “It depends.” The answer to any question for Einstein was “Yes.”

Other than making for entertaining chit-chat at a cocktail party, why is this of interest to us?

Well, think about the decisions you make on a daily basis. Most of us are always seeking the single best answer to any question or challenge. We are forever weighing solutions against each other in a never-ending search to avoid being wrong.

Quantum insists we look at things differently. At any point in time a solution can be the best…or the worst. And any other solution might be just as good, or better…or worse yet.

How this translates to daily activities is that we often delay a decision in the hopes that tomorrow we will discover a fact that will clearly establish one answer as head-and-shoulders above all others. The problem with this approach is two-fold:

  1. Time doesn’t stand still. Things change while we are trying to decide.
  2. There is rarely a single best solution.

The more time we spend searching for the perfect answer, the less time we have to effectively implement any answer. And the more likely it is that we will miss opportunities.

For several months I have been contemplating the purchase of a iPad. What’s holding me back from taking the plunge is the possibility that Apple will come out with an improved version, History would indicate that they will, but they haven’t yet. So I have missed having the use of an iPad for all this time.

Here’s what I’ve found to be true: a pretty good solution decided upon and implemented today is better than a perfect solution later. Decisiveness is its own reward; when we make a choice and implement it with focus, commitment and energy, good things happen. And no matter what, things will change, so we’ll get a chance to make another decision very, very soon. We’ll never run out of questions to answer, challenges to overcome, problems to solve, opportunities to take advantage of…and new Apple products to covet.

William Pollard, former executive director of the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies and an ordained Episcopal priest, put it this way:

“It is not always what we know or analyzed before we make a decision that makes it a great decision. It is what we do after we make the decision to implement and execute it that makes it a good decision.”

What’s keeping you from deciding today?

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