The Ferrari problem

Don’t push the pedal to the metal on problems that don’t matter.

The Ferrari problem
Photo by William Chiesurin / Unsplash

Imagine that you live in a populous city and own a Ferrari; say, the iconic 458 Italia. If you have that kind of car, it will unavoidably seduce you to try “pedal to the metal” and see what it can do, even though the busy city streets aren’t a good place for a V8 engine, 562 hp, and top speed of 325 km/h. Sooner or later, you will crash.

That’s what’s happening with many smart people I know. Armed with Ferrari brains, they’re tempted to put the pedal to the metal on problems that don’t really need a “V8 engine, 562 hp, and top speed of 325 km/h” — just because they can. This leads to worrying too much about things that don’t matter and overthinking the things that do. Very often, they crash and don’t do anything.

The solution is the same as in the case of owning a racecar: if you want to go full speed, find the right road. Just like you wouldn’t go 325 km/h in a city center, don’t waste hours scrupulously analyzing hundreds of parameters of how to best spend your weekend; limit your thinking to 3 minutes and go with your best guess. In most cases, you’ll do just fine.

P.s. I bought myself a Ferrari pen on Amazon to keep the Ferrari problem in mind. Always sitting on my desk, this pen reminds me not to waste my engines on problems that don’t matter.