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To Be, Or Not To Be – The Perils of Decision Making

After an exhausting Diwali shopping with her family, Sunita plonked down on her favorite sofa. Her phone rang. She looked at her eight year old kid imploringly to help find her phone, which he did as usual. The kid noticed the expression on his mother’s face change from tiredness to amazement while talking on the phone. As soon as she disconnected the call, she started dancing and celebrating. The kid asked her “What happened mom?” Sunita said “That call was from the shopping mall. We are the lucky winners of an exotic holiday!’

Her kid and husband also started celebrating as this was the first time they had won anything like this. The husband excitedly asked “Where exactly?” She said “They have given us three choices, first is a cruise party in Goa, second is Kerala and third is Ladakh”.

Diwali holidays came and went by and Sunita’s family did not go anywhere. They celebrated Diwali at home. Shocked why? They missed the date for reverting on where they wanted to go.

They kept debating amongst themselves and didn’t notice that their time was up. The kid was excited to go to Goa as every young kid would have wished! Sunita wanted to spend quality and peaceful time in Kerala and her adventurous husband wanted to do something different. Ultimately they were not able to make any firm decision and lost the free holiday opportunity.

So what’s your story of missing out on opportunities just because you have not taken the right decision at the right time?

Research reveals that emotions constitute powerful, pervasive, and predictable drivers of decision making. Decisions serve as the conduit through which emotions guide every attempt at increasing positive feelings such as pride, happiness, love and avoiding feelings such as guilt, fear, regret. We lack awareness of these process while taking decisions in our life but emotions and decision-making go hand in hand.

For example, you may feel afraid of flying after reading about some airline crash and decide to drive instead. However, it is a fact that the base rates for death by driving are much higher than base rates for death by flying.

Our emotions are a strong influence on our decision-making even when we have facts and data that support the alternative course of action as more logical. Understanding this and taking this into account can help us get better at decision-making.

Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is a powerful tool which allows emotion and skepticism to be brought into what, on the surface, might appear to be a purely rational process, and it opens up the opportunity of creative decision-making.

The six hats represent six modes of thinking and provide directions or guidelines to think from different perspective on any situation or problem. The best approach is to use this tool proactively rather than reactively. The six hats and the perspectives they represent are:

White Hat: The neutral White Hat focus on the available data, analyze past trends, and look for gaps in knowledge. It offers objective facts and figures.

Red Hat: The emotional intuitive Red Hat is used to get people’s gut reaction. You also tend to be keenly aware how others may react emotionally to a decision.  On the other hand, you can struggle to see a problem logically.

Black Hat: The cautious Black Hat is used when you want to get the critical viewpoint. You can identify the risks that may occur and can also identify potential pitfalls as this well help to decrease the chances of making poor decision. And will make your decisions stronger.

Yellow Hat: The sunny and positive Yellow Hat helps to counterbalance judgmental thinking of Black Hat. It can be used in looking forward to the results of some proposed action, but can also be used to find something of value in what has already happened. It will an optimistic viewpoint of the decision when everything looks difficult.

Green Hat: The creative Green Hat comes on when you want to generate fresh ideas, changes, and innovation. It is a freewheeling way of thinking without criticism.

Blue Hat: The Organizing Blue Hat sets objective, outlines the situation and return at the end to summarize and draw conclusion.

So what are the benefits of using something like the six thinking hats? This approach helps us take into account various factors and perspectives before arriving at a decision. So they help us avoid jumping to conclusions based on only one or two perspective.

Ask yourself following five questions before taking any decision:

  • Do I understand the context?
  • Do I know what is wrong and what decision is required?
  • Do I know what the options are and the consequences of each?
  • What will I regret for each decision?

Every problem you experience has a purpose and message for you. See each problem as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. See it as an opportunity to become more effective and efficient in your daily activities and a chance to more another step in your journey towards success.

Diwali is a time to turn inward and light the lamps of knowledge and truth in our hearts and minds so that we can dispel the forces of darkness and ignorance within us and allow our innate brilliance and goodness to shine forth. It is a time to acknowledge and better understand our prejudices, negative behaviors, and bad habits so that we may begin the process of transforming ourselves. Diwali is, most importantly, a time to celebrate and appreciate life and to look forward to the coming year with a renewed sense of purpose and passion.

On this auspicious festival of lights, may the glow of joy, prosperity & happiness illuminate your days in the year ahead… stay confident and positive…Happy Diwali from SoaringEagles.

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