Avoid being a donkey (but also be a donkey)
There’s a story I’ve heard a few times and each time I read or hear it, I think, I should remember this.
It begins with a donkey who’s hungry and thirsty. To its left is a bucket of water and to its right is a pile of food. Unable to decide which feeling to take care of first, the donkey turns its head left, then right, left, right. The process goes on and on. Looking left, right, water, food, water, food.
Eventually, unable to make a decision, the donkey dies of hunger and thirst.
You can relate it to when you get stuck between two things. Especially when each has an upside to them. The worst part is when you spend more time thinking about which one you should pick than actually trying each of them.
When people who want to learn data science ask me, Python or R? I say choose one and stick with it.
When people who want to learn online or go to university, choose one, stick with it, or do both. However, remember, they’re both good but nothing beats hands-on experience.
It goes deeper. Before you decide one or other, make sure the question you’re asking is the right one.
In the case of the Donkey, both options are great. Each takes care of a need. Choosing between two options is a good problem to have. But the worst is when both options answer the wrong question.
When people who want to get healthier, if the first question is “what kind of workout shoes should I buy?” They’re asking the wrong question.
When you want to learn something, if the first question is “what kind of certification will I get?” You’re asking the wrong question.
The point here is to be a donkey and not a donkey at the same time.
Be a donkey as in someone asked the right questions. And don’t be a donkey as in someone who can’t make a decision and get after it.