Driving to work one day last week, I found myself in one of my pet peeve situations. I was stuck behind a tractor-trailer rig, navigating through a small town. Beyond the general annoyance of not being able to see the horizon, this issue takes real meaning at stop lights. Simply put, I can’t see around or over the rig in front of me to see the traffic light. To get a full view, I would need to put at least a half block of distance between the truck and me.
Without realizing it, I’ve adopted a new decision-making process for this scenario: I look at the crosswalk signs. If they’re green/white and say “Walk,” I’m good to go; the traffic light is green. If they’re blinking, the light is green but scheduled to change soon. I need to proceed with caution. Of course, if they are solid red and say “Don’t Walk,” the traffic light is yellow or red. Time to stop.
Okay, so that’s probably no big revelation. I’ve done that for years, and probably so have you. What finally hit me last week, though, was the metaphor in this. So often I feel as if I don’t have a clear picture of what’s in front of me. I don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. While that may be true on the surface, I should be able to gather a lot of data by looking around. What’s off to the side? What other signals are available to me? I may not have perfect information, but clues are everywhere.
We make decisions every day without perfect information, simply based on the conditions around us. That’s life, so we might as well get better at finding those clues.