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“Nothing short of fantastic. I would recommend, without reservation, Bob's program to any other sales professional.”

~ Allen L. Howard, CLU, General Manager, New York Life Insurance Company

A Second Opinion?…It Couldn’t Hoit!

December 5th, 2011 by Bob Burg

While it’s generally good to be action-oriented (as my friend, Robert Ringer calls it, having a “bias toward action”) very seldom is it good to rush into things. While being decisive is often productive, rarely is it beneficial to act without thinking something through.

Before doing a major procedure, a good doctor will suggest her patient obtain a second opinion. Before receiving a major procedure, a good patient will insist upon obtaining a second opinion.

There is wisdom in taking that attitude into many areas of our lives. A friend recently wrote:

“I am learning that I need to be careful because in my attempts to add value I sometimes trip over things. I guess that is the downside of being a person of action!”

I can relate. My inclination is to get an idea and just run with it. Over the years, a certain solution has proven to be very beneficial. If I have any question about it, I first run the idea past someone I trust.

There are several people I do this with. And, some of them do the same with me, often using me as a similar-type sounding board.

Unless something is so vital that it MUST be done without forethought (and those times are rare), then discussing it with someone first allows you to be even more assured that your decision is the correct one. And, there’s no downside. If it’s good, you go with it; if it’s not, you make adjustments or squash it altogether.

Please don’t confuse this with “paralysis by analysis”, where you think something over to the point that it never gets done. Nor should this be confused with “perfectionism”. Both can stifle action and production.

I’m simply suggesting that, like a fired bullet, once something is written, said or done, it can’t be taken back. So, if the choice to get a second opinion is available, it probably couldn’t hurt to seek it out.

Have you found this to be true? What other ways have you found to ensure your decision is the right one?

17 Responses to “A Second Opinion?…It Couldn’t Hoit!”
  1. Kim White said at 9:10 am on

    Bob, great thought-provoking post, as always. Thank you!

    I also find that talking it through with someone before acting is key. Sometimes all they have to do is listen and before they’ve had a chance to respond I can hear in what I’m saying where the flaws in the idea are. Even better is when they provide a point of view I hadn’t considered. When I was younger I was really blessed to find such people, but I didn’t appreciate them. Now, when I find such a person I hang on to their pant legs and won’t let go! And it’s important, as you point out, to also be a sounding board for that person.

    The other thing I find very helpful is to journal my idea. I write out the premise of the idea, what’s good, what are potential problems, potential fixes for the problems, expected outcomes etc. Writing it out really forces me to think through every angle.

  2. James Ryan said at 10:22 am on

    “Paralysis by Analysis” is an well-worn term. But you’re right Bob, there are other kinds of paralysis. What about “People Paralysis”? Those high in empathy can be slow to pull the trigger for fear of how it will affect relationships.

    There’s also, “Action Paralysis.” Ever know someone who does a lot, but never gets where they want to go?

  3. Bob Burg said at 11:33 am on

    Kim, thank you! I agree with you. Often, just having that person there to listen allows me to see the flaws myself. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Like you, I was also blessed with people like that when younger and, also like you, I didn’t appreciate them as I should have. 🙂 It was only after I became “teachable” that my effectiveness improved. I loved all the points you made. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Diane Aksten said at 11:37 am on

    Hi Bob: Great thought provoking post!!

    I’ll use the analogy of making a clothing purchase: in my much younger days 🙂 I was prone to being quite impulsive in my shopping habits–if I saw an outfit I felt I just HAD to have, I’d purchase it on the spot, often with no forethought as to whether I could really afford it or would wear it enough to justify the purchase.

    With the passage of time and a few years later, I developed a practice which has served me very well and saved me more than a few $$: if I run across an item I feel I absolutely have to have, I’ll forego the purchase and think about it for no more than a week; if after a week, I still feel it’s a valid purchase, I’ll go for it–very often though, I find that if I really take the time to think about whether I need it, I’ll decide I don’t.


  5. Randy Gage said at 11:56 am on

    Are there drawbacks to being a person of action? For sure. But the benefits far outweigh them in my mind.


  6. Bob Burg said at 1:06 pm on

    Diane, thank you. Very powerful idea!

  7. Bob Burg said at 1:08 pm on

    Randy, I agree with you. And, whenever we can increase the odds of the action being correct without diminishing the effect, I’m all for doing that. That’s what the “run it by someone first” plan does for me anyway.

  8. Kim White said at 2:22 pm on

    Bob, re:Randy’s comment: maybe it somewhat depends on what you’re doing or what business you’re in. Certain businesses move quickly and if you take a year to decide to do something, you could lose out to your competition. Do you think part of this ‘second opinion getting’ is also about knowing when quick action is too quick and when second opinions go too far and turn into second guessing? How can you find that balance (other than the hard way!)? Thanks.

  9. Steve Boyett said at 3:23 pm on

    Excellent post! I tend to be the type to decide things to quickly, and appreciate the wisdom in your post!

  10. Pamela McBride said at 3:56 pm on

    Hi Bob,

    Not too long ago, I met a man who could do very little for himself on a plane. (The flights were booked, delays, etc., and the man had to sit by me while his wife had to sit at the back of the plane, and of course, if I had known, I would have gladly changed seats with his wife, but sometimes, things happen for a reason).

    We talked while I helped him, and I found out that he had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS / Lou Gehrig’s disease) two years before. At one point, just out of the blue, he said in a forlorn, puzzled way, “I just don’t understand how this all came about right after I had a crushing injury to my trach, my shoulders, my sternum, ribs and ended up with collapsed lungs and being on a ventilator.”

    His home town doctor had diagnosed him with ALS and had given him a year to live. There was no physical therapy given, because he was dying. He had just come from meeting with a “Holistic Healer” who took his diagnosis as being ALS, because that’s what he told the Healer he had…no other questions asked.

    BUT after I talked with him, I began to suspect the previous injury had led to something else and the lack of physical therapy was going to lead to his being an invalid when it could possibly be prevented.

    I had just been involved in a medical seminar where the doctors talked extensively about Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome I and II, and how to treat it, and of course, I paid attention.

    I encouraged the man on the plane to get a second opinion. I shared all my thoughts with him, but tried not to give him false hope.

    When the plane landed, the man said, “You’ve got to meet my wife!” All the circumstances combined together to give him hope.

    We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers; found out later, he doesn’t have ALS.

    Needless to say, I’m all for second opinions, especially, medically speaking.

    Thank you,


  11. Bob Burg said at 3:56 pm on

    Kim, when I say second opinion, I’m not talking about taking a year or anywhere near that kind of time. Counselling with someone in this regard might mean ten minutes or an hour; it might be a week or three days, whatever. I don’t think there’s any reason why getting a second opinion (if that’s the best option) necessarily needs to preclude making a timely decision. Of course, not every action needs to be checked. So, yes, like most topics we discuss in this blog, it depends on the context. 🙂

  12. Bob Burg said at 3:56 pm on

    Steve, thank you. Much appreciated!

  13. Bob Burg said at 4:08 pm on

    Pamela, you just saved a man’s life. Amazing how G-d works His magic in putting the two of you next to each other. You are such a kind and caring person who always takes a genuine interest in others; and the fact that all worked out perfectly as it did just totally …. well, I’m not even sure of the right word. I know that this article and your letter is about second opinions. But it’s REALLY about you being the angel you are. Thank you!

  14. Doug Wagner said at 4:34 pm on

    Hi Bob: Another great post.

    I just finished reading Lisa Petrilli’s ebook on Introvert’s. I had never really tied Introvert to needing to reflect prior to decisions so that was enlightening.

    So on the topic of second opinion I would add, make someone who is somewhat the opposite of you part of your advisor group. If you make hasty decsions have someone on your team who likes to reflect prior to decisions. If you take forever to make decisions, have someone who is quick to make decisions and will push on your team.

    Just don’t be one of those people whose goals and direction blow in the wind. Busy but never really finishing anything. Don’t like where the boss wants to go, wait a day or two and he will be going somewhere else.

    Tricky to balance informed and timely decisions for many.

  15. Bob Burg said at 10:47 am on

    Hi Doug. I agree with your second paragraph completely. I’ve often found that to be helpful and on the bigger decisions have often sought out those who I felt even would be pre-disposed to disagree. While I didn’t always agree with everything their feedback, it often provided another view or angle that I needed to see before going ahead. Thank you for sharing.

  16. While gathering others’ opinions has always served me well, I make sure they are from people who I respect, and who will tell me the truth, AND who while they might disagree, will keep me as a friend if I go against their advice. Also, other people’s opinions are great, but don’t let anyone talk you out of something that you feel, deep down, is the right thing to do. When I first started my computer consulting business the one book I could find written by a woman on the topic spent the first 50 pages telling my why my concept would never work. Fortunately I chucked it aside and went ahead and did it anyway. 2nd opinions are great, when they are considerate and respectful. I would be somewhere different entirely if I didn’t have some very wise, wonderful people in my life. Thanks again Bob!

  17. Bob Burg said at 2:59 pm on

    Thank you, Beth. Yes, all of those things important to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing!

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