Half a match

When psychology professor Lee Ross wanted to persuade his team at Stanford to recruit Amos Tversky, he used this story (via The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis):

“I said, I’m going to tell you a classic Yiddish story. There’s a guy, an eligible bachelor. A happy bachelor. The matchmaker comes to him and says, ‘Listen, I have for you a match.’ ‘Ah, I’m not so sure,’ says the bachelor. ‘She’s really special,’ says the matchmaker. ‘What, is she beautiful?’ asks the bachelor. ‘Beautiful? She looks like Sophia Loren, only younger.’ ‘What, does she have family money?’ asks the bachelor. ‘Money? She’s an heiress to the Rothschild fortune.’ ‘Then she must be a dope,’ says the bachelor. ‘A dope? She has been nominated for Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry.’ ‘I accept!’ says the bachelor. To which the matchmaker replies, ‘Good, we have half a match!’” Ross told the Stanford faculty, “After I tell you about Amos, you will say, ‘I accept!’ and I will say, ‘I’m sorry to tell you we have half a match.’”

Ross wanted Stanford, which had a location advantage, but couldn’t match the budget or prestige of other organizations. Instead, Ross suggested making a job offer early and fast. That afternoon, his organization presented Tversky with a job offer for lifetime employment. Tversky eventually said yes.

You may have experienced a version of this. A friend approaches you with an opportunity and you mull over it for weeks, until you finally say yes—only to realize there was a lot more work ahead of you to get started. 

You see a cool job post and ruminate on applying, when you do the posting is already gone. 

Your brain comes up with a great idea and you don’t act on it right away, until someone else does.

Timing is incredibly important. When you say yes, it’s only half a match. Try something new. Don’t talk yourself out of it this time. Sometimes, it’s better to accept the invitation right away.

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