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The Paradox of Choice

Blog

The Paradox of Choice

30 November, 2023

Craig - 1986

As a trendy teenager, I loved this time of year. I’d save my paper round money and the money I got for cleaning the house and head into the late 80s concrete metropolis of Basingstoke ready to dazzle my mum and dad with a couple of crappy Christmas gifts, all the while hoping they’d put in a little more effort than me.

Invariably, I’d end up in one of the temporary shops where Tesco, Boots and Smiths had vacated to the brand new Chineham Shopping Centre and The Malls, respectively. I’d walk up and down the three aisles of boxes on the floor to see what wonders I could buy. It was here, now or nowhere.

It’s fair to say they always hid their disappointment well.

I’ve just done my 2023 Christmas shopping. Online, mainly on Amazon. My supermarket of choice has more aisles than I can manage and enough products to fill the whole of Festival Place. Not only that, there are reviews designed to ‘help’ my choice along.

It’s overwhelmingly stifling.

The paradox of choice suggests that although we believe having multiple options is better, the abundance we face means making a decision takes more effort and can leave us unsatisfied with the end result.

Sound familiar?

Turn that around for a moment and think about how you compete for work, who with and where. I always recite something a colleague told me in the early 2000s about this very situation – You need to fish where the fish are.

Far too often, we are happy to fish where all the other anglers are – on social media or leaving it to chance with SEO or Adwords. We don’t get noticed because we don’t stand out.

I’ll leave the last words to Kae Tempest, whom I only discovered on a BBC documentary last night, but someone whose music and poetry I am very keen to delve into. Say this line a few times out loud and see how it feels:

“You have to shock them into focus with clarity of intent.”

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