The Practice Of ‘Deliberate Ignorance’

Have you ever felt stuck, unable to make the next move?

Have you ever been spoilt for choice, unable to decide?

Have you ever struggled with your decision making?

Then the practice of ‘deliberate ignorance’ can be a great enabler in decision making.

There is so much trash around us, the consequence of the electronic media and the internet.  There is so much of distraction which you simply don’t need.  Most of the news today is irrelevant to you or the context you are living in.  For every need of yours you have infinite options.  Information overload is taking a toll on your good sense and completely overwhelming people.  Options are plenty which is not necessarily a great thing. Increasing options come with the challenge of making choices which we seldom make.  Each time you are near to taking a decision, you are presented with more options which you would like to evaluate.  This takes you through a never ending and vicious cycle of reaching a decision point and then postponing it to evaluate more options.  Leads to a stage where you freeze with ‘decision making fatigue’.

We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. However, choice overload makes you question the decisions you make before you even make them. 

When you have an overload of information and choices available in front of you, it puts you in a state of stress.  You always have a feeling if you are going to miss out on something more relevant and important without evaluating a little more.  This happens typically just when you are about to decide.

It’s not just the options available through the media or internet, there are people who would come up to you and provide you with so many alternative ways that you tend to suspect your own competency to make the decision.  Even after you have made the decision, you will be made to feel that you haven’t evaluated enough before taking the plunge.  You keep worrying about what could have been and what you missed out.

That’s probably the reason why people often don’t decide and keep postponing decisions.

Imagine if there was no internet and no global news via television. Would you have responded differently to the pandemic?  Or would it ever be called one in the first place?

Sometimes I feel that ‘ignorance is truly blissful’.  It allows you to be in the moment and respond to situations as they happen; to take more decisions than not taking at all and learn more from personal experiences.  You wouldn’t be distracted by the noises and agendas around you.

This makes me recall what my Coach once told me.  Learn to ignore all the noise around you, stop reading news about what people are saying about you and your team, ignore the hype around the opposing team and you will notice that you will get a level of confidence which will help you respond well in crunch situations. 

I learnt it the hard way as I paid the price of not ignoring the unnecessary before a crucial game.  I was the go to guy in the team for taking penalties and in the semifinals when I got the chance I messed up badly.  I was distracted by all that I read about the opposite goal keeper.  That he was the best in the business and had a enviable record of saving penalties, especially in crunch games. Instead of focusing on my strengths, my mind was clouded by all this information added to the fact that only the previous day I heard from someone that our team had never made a podium finish.  My mind was cluttered and I couldn’t make the decision about ‘which corner to shoot’.  All this in a matter of minutes.  Should I go left; right; top corner, straight between the pads, all these thoughts were too overwhelming.  In the end, I ended up shooting so wide that the opposing goalie had nothing much to do.

From then on, whenever I am focused on getting something, I try as much as possible to cut out all distraction.  I have learnt ‘ignorance’ can be a great strategy to achieve your goals. 

Not just in sports but ignorance can be so useful to practice in day-to-day life as well.  Think of so many distracting information you receive which may have stopped you in the past, from deciding and succeeding – in relationships, your finances, health, career, personal growth, and even your spiritual pursuits.

I am not suggesting that you ignore, must ignore all options.  Having options is a good thing to make choices, however, too much of it can cloud your thinking and stop you from making that crucial decision.  Distractions can come in many forms, not just from media and the internet but also from people around.  You must learn to even avoid taking counsel from people who do not add any value.  Such people offer opinions without having any experience whatsoever about the subject.  The current pandemic is a classic example of such a distraction.  Anyone and everyone is commenting, offering advice, giving opinions, suggesting therapy, medication and what not, without having the requisite knowledge of the subject.  So much so, that even governments are getting influenced and distracted in their decision making with such ambient noise.  They seem to be reacting rather than responding to the situation.  It’s getting worse.

You must deliberately ignore what you already know is a distraction and protect yourself from the noise.  You can save yourselves a lot of trouble and stress as a result.

This global pandemic is a great opportunity to learn and practice deliberate ignorance.  It will surely help you overcome the decision making paralysis.

Stop all news, social media and any such activity which will be a distraction for about 15 days and see the difference it makes.

You will start to believe that “ignorance is truly blissful”.

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