The Special

I am very easy to go to dinner with. First, I will go anywhere; I have never in my life turned down the suggestion of a restaurant. Second, I order the same thing at every new eatery I try. I say “what’s the special tonight?” Then I sort of listen, and then I order it.

I do this for a few reasons. One is because I like to minimize my decision fatigue as a general rule. But the other is because I have a decision-influencing question that I like to ask: “what can I get here that I can’t get anywhere else?

I’ve noticed that lots and lots of people are presented with a situation and ask themselves “what can I do here?” They look at their existing inventory of things they know how to do, victories they know how to achieve, and try to apply them to where they are. But that means you just do the same things over and over in different contexts. Think about the little kid that tries to get chicken fingers at every restaurant ever.

But each situation you find yourself in will have unique aspects that provide unique opportunities. Things you can do or learn or eat in that situation, and that situation only. What a waste to ignore that!

I went to the aquarium with my children yesterday, and one thing that surprised me was how little interest my kids had in any of the informational text accompanying every animal. I was surprised because my kids devour that stuff at home – they can’t get enough books and documentaries about the animals they’re into. But I realized – they can read that same information anywhere. But they could only see the actual, live animals here. It made perfect sense to maximize the unique opportunities and leave the reading for home!

Reading text was “chicken fingers.” Seeing the animals was “the special.” In every situation, ask yourself what The Special is – and order that!

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