Curiosity Killed the Case

November 22, 2011

One of the great joys in my life is that, every morning, I wake up and get to walk my two dogs Chauncey, a West Highland Terrier, and Lucky, a Chihuahua, around the block.  When Chauncey gets a scent he follows it until he locates the source.  Then he sniffs until he gets all of the data he feels he needs, or satisfies his curiosity.  Once this is achieved Lucky decides to mark his territory on the spot that Chauncey found.  One day, due to Chauncey’s amazing focus, he ended up with a stream of Lucky’s pee pee on his head.

I have been in private investigations most of my life.  In my twenties I thought my tenacity and curiosity were my greatest assets.  Once I was promoted to working larger, more complex, cases I began to realize how much time was actually wasted extracting more data from a lead than needed or following leads that did not pan out.

Very often the greatest skill an investigator can have is knowing when a lead is dead or when to put it down for a while.  The word ‘lead’ rhymes with ‘seed’.  Think of the concept of sowing seeds.  Except the opposite.  When you sow seeds you lay dozens, and maybe hundreds, and expect only one or a few to ever bear fruit.  Most leads do not take you to the end.  Most are distractions.  The greats know which are which.  Solve the case without ending up with pee pee on your head.

Now, I’m going to finish my coffee.