People Management

How to miss opportunities: go cherry picking and start overthinking!

Photo by Manu Camargo on Unsplash

Opportunities that are not taken, leave and often they never come back. Two common reasons for missing on opportunities are going cherry-picking and overthinking. Combining them is fatal.

In real life, things will never be ideal and will seldom match all our expectations. Cherry picking is a common mistake both in job searching and in recruiting. Looking for a job and being picky will not land you the perfect job, it will just leave you frustrated and stuck exactly where you are. Besides, you create your role, no matter where you work. I’ve witnessed for years rule benders who had their ways even in the most rigid companies, professionals who knew where to set the limit even with the most abusive employers (because the way to fight bullies is to take a stand!). Having cherry pickers in the recruitment team (that includes screeners and interviewers!) expands exponentially the recruitment time and delivers poor results. By the time cherry pickers decide, the job has been taken by someone else or the candidate got hired in some other place.

I’m not saying you should not have standards. You need to distinguish between essential traits (can’t do without them) and nice-to-have-s. An 80% match is typically the best you’re going to get. The price of waiting for a perfect match is very expensive: it costs time. Worst part is that it’s not time spent to win, it’s time spent to understand you can’t win. Learn to fail fast and even better, learn to adapt.

Focusing on what is essential gets the wheels in motion. Don’t waste time on all the details when you need to get started. Sometimes “good enough”, really is good enough. Polishing and improving have their one time. Approach things incrementally and learn to communicate what you don’t like. Don’t expect others to guess what bothers you, because most people won’t and you will just start accumulating frustration until you explode. Or implode.

Overthinking can make beautiful adventures vanish. People who overthink justify this by pretending to be rational. There is nothing rational about overthinking. In business we have what is called due diligence, meaning to take a minimum amount of caution or eliminate obvious rational risks, that any person or company with a certain standard of care should consider.

Overthinking is typical to performance anxiety and more general, to people suffering from serious anxiety. Hiring someone who’s an overthinker in the legal department will get you bulletproof contracts that no one is willing to sign, because they will all be win-lose deals. Business is always done with an amount of risk. Assigning an overthinker to work on time-boxed tasks is purely suicidal: either that person will collapse trying to cover all scenarios or deadlines will be missed because they are “way too short”.

In private, overthinkers can kill relations before they start. They run all scenarios in their mind, like code was running in Matrix, trying to calculate all outcomes. Non-overthinkers know that things rarely go according to plan. The end result is that overthinkers either get depressed, because reality will never match the scenarios rendered by their mind algorithm, or will make others feel rejected in a way that’s hard to overcome: because they’ve been eliminated by logic. Fun fact: overthinkers ‘ vacation luggage is usually twice as heavier compared to others because they had to prepare for all scenarios. So is their burden.

In conclusion:

Pick cherries while they are still in front of you and enjoy their taste.

Don’t run algorithms: you’re not a machine.

Be open to opportunities!

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