Always detach yourself from pride and emotions when making decisions


Image from brainathlete.com

Last weekend, I attended a friend’s wedding in Jakarta. I had booked the seats for my wife and I early on with the intention of flying in on a lazy Saturday, spend our 23rd wedding anniversary in the quiet of the hotel, and then attend the wedding on the Sunday. It was a perfect plan! Except that it didn't turn out quite so perfectly!.

Our flight was to depart Singapore at 150pm, but at about 915am, I received an SMS informing that the flight we had booked had been canceled and we were rebooked on a later flight – 520pm. It wasn’t all too bad because I had some urgent work to complete and that little extra time would allow me to get it done before I left. When I went online to check the rescheduled flight details, I discovered that I was bumped to an even later flight – to that of 810pm. While I was not thrilled about that, I could live with it. So I went about my work.

Around 4pm, it became time for us to check in. When I went online, I had the shock of my life to discover that we were refunded the price of that flight. All I had left was the return leg! I called the customer service officer to try to square this away – it was after all, supposed to be our wedding anniversary present to ourselves – but the system had already locked us out and we could not rejoin it. I had to find a new flight.

You can imagine how livid I was, and told the customer service officer that since it was refunding me the outbound leg, it should also refund me the inbound flight. She told me that it was my prerogative and gave me instructions of how to cancel the whole booking and get all my money back.

I was about to do that when I had the presence of mind to first secure the new flights. I tried to find a new airline to fly out that evening but couldn't find one without having to pay a hefty price. I had no choice but to fly out early the next day, Sunday, on a different airline. Fortunately, we were able to make it to the church with 15 minutes to spare!

But that was not the lesson here. As it turned out, the other airline’s ticket price was more than the original price that I had paid, since it was done in advance. So if I had wanted to take that other airlines back, I would have ended up paying almost 20 percent more. If I had gone ahead and cancelled the initial inbound flight booking, there would be no choice for me but to pay up. And that would have been the wrong decision. As it turned out, I kept the original booking, even though I had wanted very much not to give them my business. I suppose I would have ended up more the loser than the airline, all because of my anger.

Pride and emotion usually get in the way of people making the right decision. Sure this example was a small one, yet many other decisions are also affected by emotions that cause even experienced and brilliant people to make very amateurish decisions. If there is anything to learn from this post, it is this: learn to separate your personal indignations, or overly confident biases, from your considerations, and you will start making the right decisions. It will certainly save you from losing money, making a fool of yourself, or worse, losing credibility. Keep your emotions in check, and increase the success rate of your decisions.

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