Two cents blog

Think it over, but don’t OVER-THINK IT

by Kevin Moreland on 15 June 2016

“That’s great. Really great. I love it. It’s spot on”.

For those of us in the business of creating and selling ideas, this kind of feedback is always welcome.

Too often though this is not the end, but only the beginning, of feedback.

Shortly after, consciously or sub-consciously, the shadow-boxing begins in earnest.

The off-the-cuff, heartfelt emotional response is quickly followed by “Let me show it to a few others”, or, “Let’s sleep on it”.

That’s often when the whispering inner voice of doubt is first heard.

And it’s often amplified by asking other people their opinion.

The initial positive emotional response is analysed through a rational lens.

No longer is the idea lauded for what it achieves, but rather critiqued for where it fails.

No longer is the idea an opportunity, but a risk.

The momentary excitement which accompanied the fresh thinking, is now a distant memory.

The initial idea now needs to be more accommodating, versatile, and better focused.

So what’s going on? Why the change of heart?

Well, it’s all about the rational brain not trusting the emotional brain (learn more about the neuroscience behind it here).

So we don’t just think it over, but all too often we over-think it. And when we over-think it, risk aversion and the phenomena of ‘loss aversion’ kicks in – that is, people’s tendency to be more motivated by what they stand to lose rather than what they stand to gain.

We’re told we live in an age of innovation. We’re told to take risks. But I don’t know that our primitive brain has caught up or evolved at the same rate as the rhetoric.

How many amazing ideas have never seen the light of day because of that over-thinking, risk-averse inner voice of doubt.

Now don’t get me wrong.

It’s important to be diligent. It’s important to see challenges on the horizon.

But these challenges are no reason for idea abandonment.

They simply speak for the need to manage risk and develop mitigation strategies.

Innovation relies on us trusting our gut, trusting our intuition.

Is that irrational? Apparently not.

Science suggests that intuition is actually our brains processing and retrieving information from the subconscious in near record time – effectively harnessing the collective wisdom of all our relevant experiences, in turn informing our emotional response.

My gut tells me we should trust our instincts more. What does your gut say?

Let me know in the comments.



Kevin Moreland is a Managing Director at BCM 

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