The Problem with Options



One of my favorite Star Trek (The Next Generation) episodes is when the Enterprise encounters a quantum fissure. All of a sudden, Lt. Warf begins to skip among multiple universes. A huge number of alternate realities (including multiple starship Enterprises) encounter each other and confusion reigns – how do we narrow things back down to being on a single (right) track??

Too many options….did you ever look at the world and see an image like the one above staring back at you? Right now, I’m trying to guide my older children into appropriate career/educational tracks, and frankly, it’s overwhelming.

Which is exactly the confusion we often feel in business, as individuals or as companies. What is the right track for us? Where does our puzzle piece fit? What’s our message? There’s a wonderfulness to having the freedom to choose among so many options, but there is a downside as well, as Roman Krznaric puts it in his excellent little book, How To Find Fulfilling Work:

“Being confronted by so many options can be a bewildering experience….the consequence is that we often become psychologically paralyzed, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. We get so worried about regretting making a bad choice that we may end up making no decision at all, and remain frozen in our current unfulfilling career.”

Really, we end up making one of two choices. We cast a wide net and take whatever we can get; or, we carefully define who we are and what we do best, and choose from a much narrower set of options. This includes career choices for the individual, but also encompasses how a business defines its key offerings and clients.

Options are great – if we can apply a method to un-choose most of them based on a clear view of reality!

Related on the blog: Two Reasons Why Getting Clarity Unlocks a World of Referrals

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  1. Hello Steve, good article on Memory Dart instead of elevator pitch. I wanted to send you three memory darts I came up with to see if you like any of them or prefer one over the other. Here they are. Please let me know your thoughts

    Thank you

    Good morning Steve, What do you do?

    Answer: I am a marriage counselor but not between husbands and wives, but rather between the customer and their mobile device. We endear people to businesses, companies, and brands through engaging mobile solutions and strategies.

    Answer: I am a Value Dictorian: We use your mobile device to make sure that any company you deal with values your time, your person, and your opinion. We deliver the final word on Engaging Value

    Answer: I am a Mobile Mogul – M&M for short and sweet. We use the mobile device to leave a good taste in your mouth when dealing with companies by helping them value your time, spend, and visit.

    • You’re on the right track, Steve, but each of these is a bit too much “upper-story” – too abstract. Our customers live in the lower level of the house and need very tangible, concrete language (your website has the same tendency – a bit too techy).

      Sometimes you have to be blunt and simple, like this: “We believe in the M&M&M approach – Mobile Makes Money. Let me show you how.” Now, you’re talking my language as a business owner not versed in the details of mobile “solutions.”

      See the difference?

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