Buying Bread

Before long, the television industry will have made a so-called reality series on every possible subject. So far, I haven’t seen one that takes place in a grocery store. As my contribution to the television industry I will offer this idea along with a storyboard for the pilot episode.

Imagine a woman going into a grocery store to buy bread. She picks up a loaf, squeezes it for freshness, checks the price, and makes the decision to try the bread. She has decided that the price is acceptable – she is confident that the bread is fresh and will meet her needs. The decision was made in a timely manner allowing time for the other decisions she will make before reaching the check-out counter.

“First weigh the considerations, then take the risks.” — Helmuth von Moltke (1800 – 1891)

The second shopper comes along and picks up two brands of bread, compares them, puts one in the shopping cart, the other back on the rack and proceeds to the check-out line. Suddenly he does an about-face, returning to the bread aisle to swap the first loaf for the second. There’s a pause. Indecision sets in. Will it be brand “A” or brand “B”? — then a blank stare accompanied by a cold sweat. Life is so full of tough decisions.

“Indecision may or may not be my problem.” — Jimmy Buffett

Shopper number three comes in for bread. He picks up the first loaf, reads the ingredients, weighs the bread, takes out one slice and performs a chemical analysis, computes cost per ounce, per calorie, and per grams of fiber, conducts a customer survey on taste, contacts Dun and Bradstreet for financial information about the manufacturer and rates the bread on his findings. Before he can repeat the process for the other 23 bread products, he is voted out of the store by the employees.

“You always second guess yourself. Just think of all the time you’d save if you just trusted yourself.” — Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

— End of episode —

The second shopper was held hostage to indecision, fueled by the fear of the unknown and the imagined consequences of making a bad decision. The third shopper attempted to deal with the same fear by doing an excessive amount of research, research that had already been done. What shoppers two and three have in common is a total lack of perspective about the magnitude of the decision. Buying bread IS NOT a major life decision. How long will it take Shopper Three to select a car? Will Shopper Two begin hyperventilating if faced with a weighty moral decision?

“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.” — Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964)

The first shopper made a timely decision using two simple pieces of information: freshness and price. The decision was made with confidence based on limited knowledge. The truth is, all decisions are made with partial information. No one ever has 100% of the information. Trust is required to fill in the information gap. Using a process that combines information with her intuition (i.e. faith), Shopper One was able to make a bread decision. Larger, more important decisions can be made the same way, including a decision about whether or not to take advantage of low-risk, life-changing opportunities.

“If I had to sum up in one word what makes a good manager, I’d say decisiveness. You can use the fanciest computers to gather the numbers, but in the end you have to set a timetable and act.” — Lee Iacocca

Most opportunities are missed because of fear, which leads to over-analysis and procrastination. Truthfully, opportunity is never missed. It’s just grabbed by someone else. What opportunities are standing at your doorstep? Perform your due diligence, then make a courageous and timely decision.

“Make a decision, even if it’s wrong.” — Jarvis Klem

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” — Elbert Hubbard

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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