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April 12, 2023


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To set the context for the rest of this idea I want to start by asking you a question - Where in your life do you feel like you’re not fully committed? Is it in a diet or fitness plan, taking a leap in your career, getting serious about a romantic partner, or something else?

While all situations are very nuanced and complex, you can think of your ‘lacking commitment to something’ as straddling. Similar to how you straddle a horse with one leg on each side to ride it, we straddle decisions and opportunities in an attempt to hedge our bet and be in two places at once.

In some cases we do this intentionally, but understand that straddling often happens unconsciously and comes with serious consequences. Your effort, focus, and attention is being split and therefore, the quality that you deliver is diluted. Whatever it is you’re hoping to do well doesn’t get everything you have to offer it.

Emotionally, straddling might be appealing because it protects you from finding out the truth of what you’re actually capable of. It can give you an excuse before you even get started, protecting you from having to truly internalize the pain and failure of falling short. If we don’t go all in, we can always fall back on the excuse that we were not fully committed. While this can be comfortable and fear-limiting in the short term, it can lead to regret in the long term.

Strategically, straddling doesn’t give us the opportunity to see if the approach we're pursuing will even work. Getting results in anything is hard, and if your efforts are distributed among different strategies, you’re simply not going to get the best outcomes.

When people find themselves straddling it’s usually because of two reasons. The first is lacking confidence. If you don’t have the confidence that things will go well, you won’t take the risk to try in the first place. Or if you don’t know that your self-esteem can handle falling short of a desired outcome, you won’t put yourself in a position to pick yourself back up when you fall down.

Alternatively, if someone finds themself straddling two options, it could be because they lack clarity. They don’t know which path they want to go down, or which specific goal they want to pursue, so they do a little bit of both. This is different than intentionally testing two strategies, that has a clear goal. Straddling involves compromising the speed or extent by which you get your desired outcome because there’s less coordination in effort.

Whether it be due to lacking confidence or clarity, I find many people are hesitant to make that commitment. It seems like there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. But more often than not, the decisions we make aren’t permanent. We can go through a door only to realize we didn't like what was on the other side, and come right back to where we started.

Don’t get caught straddling because it leads to you not giving anything everything you’ve got, and that’s what the world needs from you!

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