There’s Danger In Being Precipitous

He was over six-foot tall and weighed around 200 pounds. A sure sign of having been in prison, he had tattoos on the fingers of his hands: on one “HATE” and the other “LOVE,” and, he was madder than a wet hen. Just out of college, I weighed around 165 pounds and I was as stubborn as a mule.

He claimed he was shorted 4 hours on his paycheck. Being quite sure of myself, I was telling him it was impossible; that the payroll clerk’s computations were checked and double-checked and his pay was correct. At the height of the “discussion,” our roofing superintendent pulled me aside and suggested that I could save myself some serious pain by cooling down and making sure I was right. I discovered I was wrong, and he was due an additional 4 hours of pay.  I then began to understand the danger in being precipitous.

When designing a publication, good graphic designers leave plenty of “white space.” They know  a cluttered page is difficult to read and understand. The same is true of our lives: if  always busy, then there is little time for understanding and reflection. We need to have white space in our lives: time when we can deliberate on decisions; time for logic rather than reaction; time to draw upon our experiences, beliefs and knowledge.

There have been other instances when I have been precipitous—heck one time was so bad I can’t talk about it unless I have had a couple of drinks—but, as I grow older, I have found my decision making process to be more deliberative.  Something about a 200-pound ex-con with “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed on his knuckles makes you remember to check and double-check.


Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness or oppose with firmness.”- Charles Caleb Colton


5 responses to “There’s Danger In Being Precipitous

  1. Hi Bill,
    It sounds like you’ve been looking over my shoulder. I can’t even count the times I’ve made decisions without thinking things through. For so long, I flew by the seat of my pants and I’m embarrassed when I think of some of the stupid things I’ve done because I didn’t take the time to think something through…or to consider the consequences.
    I wish I could say I’m all healed in this area, but I’m not. I have to pay attention to life carefully, or I fall back into my old habits.

    Very good post. Thank you.

    • I wish I was beyond falling back into old habits.

      One escalating cause of precipitous decisions is technology. Smart phones, email, twitter etc.—always being connected, lend to making precipitous decisions.

      Thank you for your kind comment.


  2. Loved this post, especially about the need for white space in our lives. As for the precipitous advice, I definitely agree with the need for making sure before making a choice. However, sometimes I spend too much time in reflecting and am afraid to make a choice in case I’m wrong! What advice do you have for those of us who fall into that boat?

    • Years ago, I attended a lecture during which the presenter’s topic was entitled “The Path Of The Heart.” The premise was that our decision making process consists of many elements: experience, knowledge, spiritual, etc. When making a decision we should do our best to utilize all the elements and then follow the path our heart tells us: do what we intuitively believe is right.

  3. The Path of the Heart—love that! Will keep that in mind. My father always said to me, “Susan, sometimes it’s not so important what you do. Just do something.” Good advice, too.

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