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The Rabbit, the snake and the irish setter
This unusual grouping of animals has a great finance story to tell.

Really. They do.

Have you ever wondered when you should sit tight and when is the time for action?

Numbers geeks aren’t the only ones who can get caught up in the dreaded affliction Analysis Paralysis.

If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes with an Irish Setter you know that they never suffer from this terrible disease. While I love my dog (that’s her in the picture), she was not bred for brains but beauty and a great nose.

Schools in, and my flaky Irish Setter is running the show!

I was putting my dog Sasha out one morning when I noticed a small cottontail rabbit crouched in the grass nearby. In the early morning light, with fairly long grass, it was difficult to see the rabbit.

Unlike Greyhounds, which rely primarily on sight to hunt, Irish Setters use scent so it seemed unlikely the rabbit would go undetected.

Curious, I stood on the porch to watch events unfold. Sasha ambled out onto the grass to do her business, oblivious to the rabbit. As she drew closer to the rabbit I thought surely something would happen. She would catch its scent, or the rabbit would bolt.

About 5 feet away from the rabbit she stopped to fertilize my lawn. The rabbit was so still I couldn’t be sure it was breathing.

Nothing happened.

Sasha finished and ambled back over to the porch wanting her breakfast. Since the rabbit was still frozen in place on the lawn I tried pointing it out to Sasha, “Over there, look!” Often that’s enough to pique her interest. Nothing doing that morning, inside to breakfast we went.

The Rabbit’s Lesson

The rabbit was on an open lawn, and couldn’t be sure that a bolt for the woods would be successful. (For the bunny lovers out there, the worst my dog might have done is lick the poor thing like she does with my cats.) The rabbit believed it was unnoticed, so it sat tight, waiting to see what would happen next.

Waiting was a risk for the rabbit. At 5 feet my dog might have caught it, and a Greyhound surely would have. Whether it was paralyzed with fear, or simply waiting to see what would happen we can’t be sure.

When you choose to wait, or in business code “analyze the various options”, what are you risking?

Being a bird dog, Sasha really isn’t that interested in snakes. While we don’t have any poisonous snakes around here, Garter Snakes (often referred to as Gardener Snakes) are common.

In the past when I’ve spotted a Garter Snake, I’ve tried to interest Sasha. If you’ve ever come across these guys before, you’ll know that they do NOT sit around and wait. They take off fast. It’s harder than you think to keep up with a snake.

Scent, not motion is what attracts my dog. Even if I can convince her run after a snake, she takes one good sniff and is off to chase squirrels.

The Snake’s Lesson

Around me, the snakes are safe, in fact small ones welcome because they eat all sorts of other things I don’t want in my yard. However many people are like my Dad, who believes the only good snake is a dead one. The snake’s reaction on meeting a person is to take off fast, without waiting to see if it needed to move or knowing what danger it might be running into.

In business terms, there is an idea, product or promotion that you instinctively know will be a success. You jump right in, and often may be successful. Next time, consider the benefits of doing at least a day’s worth of analysis first before taking action.

Sasha may be flighty, but this last lesson is not as harebrained as it seems..

Unlike tic-tac-toe, there is no opening choice with Rock Paper Scissors that will guarantee success. If you pick the rock, paper can trip you up (although I really wish someone, someday would explain to me how!). If you pick paper, then scissors are your nemesis and so on.

If my dog had been a Greyhound that cute little cottontail would have been in big trouble.

If the snake had been spotted by a bird of prey, it likely would have become lunch. In fact, just the other day I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk catch a snake. Hawks spot snakes when they move.

The Solution

If you take even 30 minutes to review your situation you will dramatically improve the outcome.

Here are some questions to consider if you’re sitting tight like the rabbit.

  • Is your inaction due to fear? If so, is the fear a legitimate one?
  • What are the potential consequences if you do nothing?
  • What can you realistically hope to gain by doing even more analysis

If you are tempted to react instinctively and immediately consider the following.

  • What would you lose if you wait one day to take action?
  • Other than instinct, why are you convinced this will be successful? Does it relate to your mission statement? Target market? New product requests?
  • What might you gain by doing analysis before taking action?

Final Thoughts

Are you usually a snake or a rabbit? What are the benefits? Drawbacks?

How do you overcome the dreaded Analysis Paralysis?

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