I’m making the empirical claim that people systematically don’t take enough opportunities. Essentially that people fall too far on the exploit side of explore/exploit, thanks to a bunch of human biases that lead to paralysis. And empirically I’ve found that when I started taking opportunities more, some were meh, and others were really valuable. I don’t think this claim is obviously true, but empirically it seems true for my experience and my observations of people.
I think there’s also an important skill of prioritising and choosing the right opportunities. But people are bad at this, and I think that trying to do this often leads to excessive paralysis. I think you first need to develop the skill of taking opportunities, there will be enough good ones in there for this to feel motivating and sustainable, and then you develop the skill of selecting things and prioritising.
I’m also not arguing that you should take literally every opportunity—just that on the margin people should take opportunities more. I think it’s really hard to give advice that leads someone paralysed to take too many opportunities, because their bias goes so far in the other direction. And so getting them to take the marginal opportunity naturally means they select good ones (on average).
I agree this can go wrong! Eg, somebody who signs up to a bunch of extra-curriculars, realises they don’t have enough time and burns out. I’m not sure how to give advice that can help people to overcome paralysis and be good at filtering opportunities at the same time.
Yeah, this is definitely a case of “the opposite advice would be useful.”
People who are overly risk averse may need to hear “Say yes to more opportunities” whereas others need to hear “say no to more opportunities.”
Do you have any further reading on “the opposite advice would be useful” besides the SSC article? I’ve found it difficult to navigate the tension between two sides of some pieces of advice.
That’s my go to article. Was trying to think if there’s any other sources of advice that I use implicitly when dealing with conflicting advice, but nothing springs to mind. Let me know if you find a good resource!
There is this HBS article I found which talks about it from a management lens and offers some okay recommendations at the end
I think my own spin on the incorrectness of the article would be, I think some forms of procrastination and laziness are valuable. Sweeping every day will only make the floor so clean. Some tasks truly DO go away if you ignore them long enough.
...But overall, I do firmly agree with the intent of your article.