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Smart Decision – A Life Changer

Every morning when we wake up, we have several decisions to make. Starting with the simple ones, like which dress to wear, what to eat for the breakfast and lunch, how to commute to my workplace and so on. There are more complex ones, like what career should I pursue, should I take a job now or study further, should I move to another city for better career opportunities, etc.

Decision making is the process of selecting a logical/right choice from the available options and acting on it. It is an integral part of our lives. Research findings indicate that as adults, we make approximately 70 decisions in a day. Some decisions are minor and some are major. Successful people make the small decisions routine, so that they can free their mind to think, analyse and implement major decisions. Decisions can also be intuitive or taken with proper reasoning. The best decisions are always the ones which are a combination of intuition and reasoning. This reminds us of an age-old saying “Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.”

Sometimes the results of our decisions may be different from the expected ones. In such cases, we should know why they are so. The reasons can be that we have very little information to make a decision or so much information that we are confused. There may be too many people involved in decision making or there may be people with vested interests. There are times when there is no emotional attachment, meaning that any decision taken does not matter. Or there may be too much emotional attachment meaning that the decision can’t be rational.

Decision making becomes simple if we are clear about our goal/problem. We need to list out the available range of alternate options. If necessary, we need to search for information. We can then list and weigh the pros and cons of the available options and identify the best option. Then, we can implement the chosen option/plan.

Sometimes the situations are tricky. The decisions we take have to be smart. We need to understand the decision making is not on normal expected behaviour but on the deviations from the normal happenings. Here is a story to illustrate the same.

Once upon a time, in a village, there lived an old cunning moneylender, Rudrappa. A farmer named Narayana, who lived in the same village, had taken a loan from the moneylender to buy a piece of land. Since there was drought for a couple of years, Narayana had no income and hence his debt, along with the interest, had almost doubled. Rudrappa was least concerned about the plight of Narayana and kept pestering him to return the money. Narayana begged saying that he would need more time to clear the debt, but it fell on deaf ears.

One day while Narayana and his 20-year old daughter Lakshmi were at the field, Rudrappa came there. Lakshmi was not just beautiful but very smart too. Rudrappa always had a secret desire to marry Lakshmi. He came there with a wicked plan to ensure that Narayana would marry Lakshmi to him. Rudrappa told Narayana “You are yet to clear my debt. I’m sure even if you work for the next 20 years, you will not be able to return my money. So, I have a proposal for you.” Narayana and Lakshmi were surprised and wanted to know what the proposal was. Rudrappa continued “I will forgo the debt if you marry your daughter to me.” Both Narayana and Lakshmi were shocked! Lakshmi immediately protested saying she will not marry Rudrappa. Rudrappa was not willing to give up. He told Lakshmi “Let us not decide whether to get married or not, let fate decide for us. Let me pick 2 pebbles from the path here – 1 black and 1 white. I will put them in a bag. Without peeking you pick up one stone from the bag. If you pick black, you will have to marry me and the debt will be forgiven. If you pick white, you don’t have to marry me and your debt also will be forgiven. If you do not pick any, I will ensure your father is thrown in the jail for the rest of his life.”

Lakshmi knew Rudrappa was upto some trick but had no choice but to agree to this condition. Rudrappa distracted Narayana by talking to him while he picked 2 black pebbles and put it inside the bag. The clever girl saw what Rudrappa did and had to decide what to do now. If she called Rudrappa a cheat, he would then harass her family further. If she kept quiet, she had to marry him. She thought quickly and came up with an idea. Rudrappa came to her and asked her to pick a pebble from the bag. She closed her eyes, put her hand in the bag and took out a pebble. She then acted clumsy and dropped the pebble on the ground which was filled with colourful pebbles. She said “How clumsy of me to drop the pebble! But let us not worry. If we look into the bag we will know which coloured pebble I dropped.” Saying this, she picked up the black pebble from the bag and showed it to Rudrappa. She said “I must have dropped the white pebble which means that I do not have to marry you and you will also forgo my father’s debt.” Rudrappa had no choice but to accept defeat and move on.

One of the takeaways from the story is that we should not make decisions based on where we are in the current situation but based on where we want to be.

-Dr H S Nagaraj

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