4i Newsletter Masthead 507

Hobson’s choice

Four i 507 HobsonsChoice

Last week, Seth Godin talked about ‘Hobson’s Choice’ – I wasn’t previously aware of the origin of this term, which dates back to the 16th century.

Thomas Hobson was a hostler who owned a livery stable in Cambridge. Whilst giving the impression of having an extensive choice of forty or more, Hobson would only allow the horse in the stable nearest the entrance to be selected, so as to ensure they were rotated as opposed to just the best ones being chosen; and hence we now use the term to describe a “take it or leave it” situation.

This got me thinking back to one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned from Stephen R Covey (author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), who I was very fortunate to be personally coached by thirty years ago.

“In between a stimulus and a response, make a gap to create more options.”

In simple terms, more often than not, what might appear to be Hobson’s choice is in fact an illusion.

“Use the four endowments: Self-awareness, Imagination, Conscience, Independent Will, to make the right choice.”

Stephen’s lesson was not only to expand the number of options available, by creating a gap before making a decision, but to use the endowments we all have to make better decisions.

I’m sure we’ve all succumbed to “Buy Now or Miss Out” marketing, whether it was a ‘Black Friday’ offer, or someone using the scarcity principle: “We only have three remaining…” but we didn’t always have to.

You see, when you stop and think about it, there are always more options than appear at first.

Might a canny traveller choose to wait for another to take the nag in the front stall, and whilst delaying their journey, more than catch up, indeed overtake, with the next, stronger steed?

And might you delay making an employment, service provider, or marketing decision until you’ve found the perfect one as opposed to the best you’ve seen so far?

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