The Ford Model T went into production in 1908 and was the first car to be mass-produced efficiently, using an assembly line. By the end of production in 1927, 15 million were produced in Michigan, USA. During the first four years of production, the Ford Model T was only available in three colors – green, gray and red. However, in 1914, black paint became cheap and, along with its durability, meant that all Ford Model T’s were painted black. Hence the famous phrase “customers can own a Ford in any color, as long as it is black”.
More than 100 years later, a significant part of the world today lives surrounded by an increasing abundance of choices. At a time when we have achieved more than any other generation has achieved, we find everywhere real examples of dissatisfaction for not doing more, having more. Our success is bittersweet and results mainly from the fact that we now have the possibility to choose like never before.
We grew up based on the paradigm that the more choices we have, the more freedom we have… but more recently we have realized that having too many options to choose from produces anxiety and brings difficulties, especially to those who are not trained to do it well. Our context amplifies the stress on us… and it is easy to see who is close to us to always strive to have the best possible, eventually giving in to pressure, both social and self-inflicted, sometimes assuming “unhappy”.
The choice process can, however, be more conscious and healthy, even today. This requires improving our emotional intelligence, especially self-knowledge and self-control, and then with deliberate practice, we will be able to choose better, without the decision-making process bringing us negative consequences.
The growing awareness that we are making the “right choice” is very important. Think and answer the questions Why is this? Why now? … it helps us to understand the reasons for such a decision. It is especially when we are comfortable with the reasons for the choice [and not with the material object that this decision brought us] that we feel most satisfied and that we feel most comfortable with the process.
It also helps us to assume that it will not be possible, in that case, to go back with the decision made. This fact leads to the mental acceptance process being facilitated, since we cannot “return” or reverse it. When we assume that this decision we are going to make is final, our predisposition to find the best option increases and our satisfaction with it will be higher.
The practice of gratitude and the awareness that we gain nothing from repentance also allows us to channel our energy into improving our personal well-being and relationships with others. It is extraordinary what we gain emotionally from the regular practice of gratitude and the way it impacts our desire to want “more through less”.
It is also important to recognize and value the constraints that already exist in our daily lives, without which the number of choices would be even greater. The rules that society imposes allow us to deal better with what there is to decide, as they guarantee that we have freedom within the limits. Being aware that these limits help us to decide with ease and ensures that we do not spend all our time in a struggle to survive.
Today, 14 car companies own 55 brands on the market. If we think only of these, and make a rough estimate below the real value, that each brand has 10 models, each model has 5 versions and each version has 10 alternative colors … there are 27,500 possible choices. And we haven’t even reached the possible customizations. It can be overwhelming, clearly.
Making aware and significantly limiting the choice process, considering them from time to time non-reversible, convincing ourselves that there is no room for regret and thanking current limits are some of the tips we can follow to better deal with decisions in time of today. The better prepared we are in decision making, the better we are able to make good decisions in our companies and in our lives. There are programs and experiences that in 2020 can help us on this topic. Let’s practice?
Article for INFORH, written by Luís Rosário Immersis Partner.