“How can we make good decisions when there is insufficient data”? During a seminar a few weeks back, I got this question from the audience. As someone giving the talk, I was supposed to be an “expert” on this! Alas, I could not act as the know-all expert; inspired by Brene Brown, I chose to be a human instead – showed them how sub-optimal my decision-making process is! I told them this story.
My parents were visiting me; this was their first time in the US, so I wanted to show them some landmarks. On the same token, I thought that if my uncle and aunt from Michigan could join us, it would be even more fun – we would also have a mini family reunion. Unfortunately, our trip timing fell around a holiday weekend.
When getting plane tickets at a reasonable price alone was a challenge, finding two sets of flights reaching and returning around the same time made it even more daunting. Which airport would have the best price, how much drive would be tolerable for my elderly parents – all got added to the mix. I could tell I would never want to be a travel agent! Plane fares were increasing every day, and so was my stress level. As any couple would guess, I even fought with my husband one night. I couldn’t imagine how I put myself in such a situation. Trust me, feeling like an expert was nowhere to be found on my emotional status list. I felt like getting out of it by saying, “Sorry, let’s just cancel the whole idea.”
Finally, at some point my sanity came back. I asked myself: How would I want to feel about this vacation a few years down the road? How important is it for me to get the lowest possible price and the minimal wait time?
A few hundred dollars of additional expense or a few extra hours of waiting would be forgotten in no time, while the joy of the quality time spent together would fill our hearts for years to come! My young daughter will remember this life experience even when her grandparents are no longer around. The rest became much easier when I got in touch with my bigger intention.
By the time we had the trip, the plane fare had increased ~50% from my initial estimate, and the Detroit party had to wait 8 hours at the airport, but no one complained!
Now, what is the learning from this story?
– Be very lean and mean about what matters most – to You and to the People around you (who will be affected by the decision). When you take too many facotrs into consideration, it makes the problem more complex than it really is.
-Extend your vision a little further than the immediate – how do you want to feel about the outcome (of this decision) few years down the lane?
Getting in touch with your core values gives you the strength to do the right thing. Define “right” and “good” based on those values; trust yourself, and equally important, trust the people around you. When you show your vulnerable human side to them, listen to them, and communicate what you are basing your decision on, they will be with you no matter the outcome!
Originally published in Dec 2012
Feature image: My family in Grand Canyon