Never Go In Against A Critical Doer When Death Is On The Line!!!

A Critical Doer attacks problems and creates opportunities from the inside out 

Those of you who are fans of the classic movie The Princess Bride, arguably one of the most genuinely funny films ever, will recognize the play on words in the title.  In this famous scene, Wesley (AKA The Dread Pirate Roberts) faces off against Vazzini in a battle of wits with poison wine goblets.  If you’ve never seen this before, stop now and click the link below for one of the funniest…and most instructive…pieces of comic genius you’ll ever see.



 Wesley Versus Vazzini

Vazzini referenced two classic blunders:  (1) never get involved in a land war in Asia (2) never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.  There is one more classic blunder he overlooked…never practice “either/or” binary thinking when anything is on the line.

Take a look at the following graphic…this is the binary picture Vazzini saw as he went through a dizzying number of possibilities that lead to an “either/or” choice.  Despite the permutations, Vazzini could only see two possible outcomes:  either his wine glass or Wesley’s wine glass was poisoned.


Binary Wineglasses


If Vazzini was a Critical Doer, he would have taken my recommendation from a previous post on Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive and implemented step 1 of the WRAP model of decision making…widen the options.  Had he taken this step, Vazzini would have recognized there were two more outcomes he hadn’t considered…both wines glasses were poisoned or neither wine glass was poisoned.


Widen the options wineglasses


In this case, the consequences of binary thinking were comical…we don’t always get that luxury as we conduct the business of a practical world.  When faced with a tough problem, it’s worth your while to use the time you have to consider possibilities beyond the obvious.  The ability to see the full scope of possibilities is what separates an average thinker from a critical thinker.  Using critical thinking to figure out the right option and applying it in time to be relevant is what transforms a critical thinker into a critical doer!

I challenge you to find a situation at home or work where you need to rethink the possibilities to find the right solution to fix a problem or create an opportunity.  When you find the solution you’ve been overlooking, put it in motion to achieve a goal and find fulfillment.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: March 10, 2015 — 12:39 am


  1. Excellent comparison! I just recently went to the funeral of an old bossman who died at the young age of 60. When he took over the office I worked at, I had a hard time adjusting to him. He was a serious “critical thinker” (perhaps over-critical sometimes). Before we could tackle a job, he always took extra time to analyze it from every possible facet before deciding HOW to proceed. As frustrating as it was at the time, he taught me the importance of thinking things through, not just to accomplish the short term objective, but what might benefit us further down the road.

  2. “Using critical thinking to figure out the right option and applying it in time to be relevant is what transforms a critical thinker into a critical doer!”

    A good plan executed violently today is better than a perfect plan that never gets executed because the planners were too locked into attaining perfection in the elegance of the plan to transform the plan into action.

    Not my original thought, but paraphrased.

    Tags along well with avoiding decision paralysis and acting in time to be relevant.

    From a country saying — no point in closing the gate AFTER the cows are out — is there?

    Act in time to be relevant!

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