Sunday, September 26, 2010

Decisions, decisions

Recently, a friend was offered a project. She wants to work, someone presented it to her: should be a no-brainer, right?

But her gut was not on board, and when you’re as experienced as she is (and sometimes when you’re not) it makes sense to listen to those inner rumblings.

In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell shows that what seem like split-second decisions or hunches are actually the result of a whole equation’s worth of clues, so I suggested to my friend that she come up with three reasons to take the job.

“Money,” was her prompt response and it’s a good, valid and necessary reason.

But it’s only one. Her belly was still waffling.

We pondered a little longer.

The lump sum would indeed please her banker and keep the pantry stocked for a while, but the work itself wasn’t as clearly defined. The client hadn’t delineated the scope of the job as clearly as the amount of money available for it and that made the dollar value less certain, less appealing.

There’s a scene in a novel by James Lee Burke in which a man is throwing pieces of hamburger bun (I think) for a stray dog. But he wasn’t tossing the food to the dog, he was making the dog run for every morsel, using up more energy to get the bread than he would get from eating it. The dog was starving, though, hungry enough to do the work anyway.

Luckily my friend isn’t that desperate. She has the luxury of weighing the value of running against the value for her life. So that’s what she did.

Would this project help her reputation or career? Not really.

Would it be fun? Nope.

Would it make her healthier? Be good for the environment? Save the world? No to all three.

I’m not generally great with numbers, but it seems to me that’s a lot of noes compared to one possible benefit.

Hunger is often enough motivation all by itself, but sometimes that hamburger bun really isn’t worth chasing.

No comments:

Post a Comment