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Let Me Think for Seven Minutes

So, this afternoon, I was straightening up the house, and I saw a wrapper on the floor in the family room. I asked my young son if he left it there. His response?

“Let me think for 7 minutes.”

I tried hard not to laugh. After all, I am trying to reinforce the concept of household 5S, specifically systematic cleaning. But, for the life of me, I could not figure out why he needed precisely seven minutes to come up with an answer.

But, the more I thought about it, the more I think he has the right idea. In many case, people rush to come up with an answer because there is pressure to do so. The assembly line is down. A customer is waiting. Dad is making you clean up during your cartoon.

But the truth is, quick answers often lead to poor results. We don’t do thorough root cause analysis. We make assumptions to fill in gaps in knowledge. We don’t frame the problem properly. And as a result, we don’t come up with a good solution.

So, I am going to try to add the wisdom of my son to my own toolkit and take at least seven minutes to think through a problem before taking any actions. I think one of the things we lose as adults is the ability to recognize that we don’t always have the answers. Many times, we just think we do.

Kids dive into research and experimentation before they answer because they recognize something that adults don’t. They know that they don’t know everything. Or at least they know that until they are teenagers, at which point, they will, in fact, have all the answers. But until then, I will emulate my son, and take the time to think through a problem before answering.


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