11 May 2009

Don’t think, just do it!

A research team at St Andrews University in Scotland have now proved what many of us have thought to be true for a long time – namely, that over-analysing something will impair your performance.

To conduct their research the asked 80 novice and skilled golfers to practice a putting stroke until they got it right 3 times in a row. They then asked half the golfers to spend 5 minutes describing what they did while others took a break and did something completely unrelated to golf.

What they found was that the golfers who talked about what they were doing took roughly twice as many attempts to repeat the task as the golfers who had been doing something else.

The researchers claim that the loss of performance is due to an effect called “verbal overshadowing” which makes the brain focus more on language centres than on the systems that support the skill in question.

Interestingly, this same effect has been shown to adversely impact the ability of a person to recognise faces. So if the police ask a witness to describe the face and appearance of a suspect before showing them photographs of likely suspects, they will actually reduce the likelihood of them identifying the correct person. Intuitively, you’d think this would be to the other way round.


  1. Hmm, that makes sense...

  2. so true. For years... I've had this problem. Always thinking so much. Thinking too much about what I was going to do, or what I was about to do, or taking a long time to plan my day, week, or month... Just thinking "what should I do," "what should I do," "what should I do?"

    Even taking 2 years of personal development and transformation classes/courses to become successful and make money... But all that didn't matter, 'cause I was "thinking too much."

    I was talking too much about doing xyz in my PD&T courses instead of actually doing it! Instead of actually taking the actions ....

  3. It’s interesting that the greatest difference between highly successful people and everyone else has nothing to do with intelligence, creativity or innovation. The difference lies in execution. The fact is that the most successful people get on and do the stuff that everyone else is just thinking about. However, the down-side of that approach is that those people are just as likely to fail in spectacular fashion as they are to succeed, which is probably why we have an innate propensity to be ponderous.

    A prime example of the JDI (just do it) approach is Richard Branson, who wrote a book titled "Screw It, Let’s Do It".


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