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When in doubt...



I often find myself in situations when I'm not sure what decision to take. Sure, I know what decision I would make right now, but I can't be certain if that is the right decision to be taking. Doubts creep up my mind and try to dissuade me from making the decision. However, it doesn't mean that I switch to the other option on the table. I do that and a different set of doubts creep up my mind and try to dissuade me from making the decision.

This is the situation when we seek the advice of others. This is when we go to friends and mentors and loved ones and ask them what we should do? This is when a CEO asks his lieutenants which side they lean towards? This is when a product manager asks for more data to be extracted to see which option makes more sense?

But the problem here is in already leaning towards one of the options. Well, that isn't the whole of the problem. The real problem is in asking for advice or asking for more data only in the hope of validating the decision we have already made. If what you hear can't change your mind, then don't ask the question, and don't look for more data. Don't do it when all you are seeking is validation.

Because, there is a good chance that what you hear is going to be the opposite of validation. You might very well be suggested to go with the option you are reluctant to take. And if you still go ahead with your original choice after asking and hearing a contrary opinion, then the value of asking is lost. The next time you ask, you will not get an honest answer.

This is how 'yes men' are made. Nobody wants their opinions to be discarded without reason. Do it often enough and the advice you get will only be what you want to hear and not what you ought to hear.

Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. In such cases, just do it. Don't deliberate. Don't seek out advice. Don't make an Excel sheet with pros and cons. Take the decision and move on.

And other times, you really are in doubt and are genuinely evaluating available options. Then, seek out advice and hear the opinions of who you talk to, weigh them rationally and then make the decision.

When in doubt, first find out your appetite for listening to opinions that don't necessarily align with your instinct. And only ask if the answer can change your mind. 

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