Yesterday, a customer asked me to help her decide which botanicals to buy for an aquarium she was designing for Angelfish.
Not an uncommon thing in my daily existence, both at Tannin Aquatics and at Unique Corals!
These kinds of calls are fun, but they used to scare the shit out of me.
Because making decisions about what to do in your aquarium can have consequences, right? Helping make decisions about someone else's aquarium- well, that's a whole different layer of craziness!
Her call required a seemingly simple decision, actually- a choice between two different aquascaping materials; however, choosing one over the other would take the aquascape in a definite "direction", so I suppose the consequences of the decision would be lasting..We went back and forth over the pros and cons, and following our discussion, the customer, apparently pleased/impressed with how I helped her arrive at a decision, asked, "How do you arrive at these decisions with such confidence?"
It made me think for a minute. After I laughed...becuase I have not always made good decisions! I used to agonize over everything. "Analysis paralysis" was like my modus operandi. And also laughed because we spent 40 minutes discussing wood and seed pods! I love that. What I do is really cool...and it's important to some special people.
How to make better aquarium-related decisions is actually pretty easy, but you have to be honest with yourself and stay focused on the primary issue. Of course, just deciding to share my thoughts on the process involved me weighing the potential "risks" ("Oh, there goes Fellman spouting off more wannabe psychobabble stuff." or "See, he DOES think he's the most important person in the industry.." or "Anyways, on to the next thread!")
It’s all about how you approach it, really.
Here's how I've stumbled through the aquarium decision making process after a lifetime of getting wet:
1) Deciding between, for example, two amazing fishes: A classic one, actually. Go with your first choice. Period. You can always get the other one another time. Think about it this way- If you’re taking all that time to mull over the decision, is it to gather data or to postpone a decision? Maybe the best decision is to pass on both? Maybe?
2) Make the most pressing decisions first. In other words, if you know that you have to replace that canister filter and you also have the opportunity to purchase that crazy rare pair of cichlids…get the canister filter first. Yeah, because you have a lot depending on that filter, whereas the fish can always be picked up at a later time. Really.
3) Don’t change your mind once you’ve made the decision, unless there is a very compelling (ie; vital) reason to change it. Like, the new addition is killing everything in the tank, or the plumbing modification you made is flooding your new hardwood floor.
4) Avoid soliciting 5 different decisions on “Which one” to get, or “which way to go”…Forums are great, but they create decision-making roadblocks, IMHO. Just don’t ask the world. Ask people whom you trust, who can bring specific value to their recommendations.
5) Blow through simple decisions with little reflection. Example: You need to get more carbon. You use a pound a month. Should you buy one pound or two pounds of the same brand? Who cares? Just get the carbon!
OMG, how insultingly simple I'm making everything sound...And really, that's not my point. I guess, having been through a lot of personal changes in recent years (seeing life, death, relationships, business all change in a heartbeat) has given me a different perspective than I've had in the past. I've learned that you need to spend more time doing something than deciding about it. I mean, you can grow old and die just deciding which Tetra to purchase...Why?
I screw up. A LOT. Like, more than you do. But you know what? I learn from every screwup. And sometimes, I actually make changes. It's not that bad.
And, it gives me more material to share with you!
Anyways, a lot to do today...Enjoy your coffee, and your day.
And stay wet!