Study Long; Study Wrong

August 12, 2011

While I was in seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, I worked for Sears. My first job there was as a porter, which is another term for janitor. One of my fellow janitors was an older Black gentleman named Buster Williams. Buster and I became good friends. Buster not only taught me how to be a porter, he taught me how to play dominoes. Now dominoes is big in Texas, like everything else! On our lunch break we’d go to the employee break room almost daily and play a game.

Buster was an expert dominoes player, having played all his life. I was a complete novice. When it was his turn to make a move and lay a domino down, there was no hesitation. However, when it was my turn to move, many times I’d have to think and study and try to figure out the best move available to me. During those long pauses, Buster would sit patiently across the table smiling. But if I took longer than necessary, he would often throw out a saying I’d never heard before. It was his gentle way of hurrying the game along given the short time we had to play. He’d say, “Study long; study wrong,” the suggestion being that if I overanalyzed the situation, I was going to make the wrong move. More times than not, it proved to be true.

In leadership, analysis paralysis can be costly. We make a lot of wrong decisions in haste, no doubt. But we also waste golden, God-given opportunities in our hesitation, or simply end up making the wrong move altogether.

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