The More Choice You Have, The Less There Is

Giving greater choice does not mean more will be chosen! 

Most people believe that having a choice is good. The belief here is that choice gives us freedom, so if we have more choices we have more freedom, the better it is for our lives.

But some research has found that this is not necessarily the case. Researchers set up in a shop and presented an array of tasty jams and enticed shoppers to buy a jar. In one version, there were six varieties shown to shoppers. In another, there were 24 jams. The second, larger array attracted more traffic. But the smaller array led to ten times more purchases.  The researchers concluded that sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the number of options available to us.

Having too much choice has two negative effects on people. Firstly, paradoxically, is that too much choice produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all. Think of comparing retirement plans or different car insurance policies.

Second, there are significant opportunity costs you incur, that is when you choose one option you try to assess the costs of what you have foregone i.e. the benefits you will not realize for the options you have not chosen.  Because people are naturally afraid of making a wrong decision so you perceive more of the costs of your choice than the benefits, and you are less satisfied with the alternative that you have chosen.

The implications for the paradox of choice hold equally true for your customers, your suppliers, your employees and others as they do for you.  So if you want to avoid your customers suffering from “analysis paralysis”, and for them to value the benefits of what they choose to buy from you, there are two things to do:

  • Give them limited choices – rather than asking them to compare offerings with many features and attributes keep them focused on the key ones that are important to them.
  • Use three options – for some reason, people find it easier to choose when they have three options to select from.  Provide them with three distinct offerings, and make the similarities, overlap, and difference clear and relevant. Make it easy for them to decide.

The paradox of choice is part of who and what we are. Learn to work with it rather than to circumvent it.

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To Create Your Future, Start in the Present

If you want to create your future, then work in the present 

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here. Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au If you found this article of use or interest please don't hesitate to share it with others. Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How often have your colleagues, your family, or your friends, amazed you with their near-perfect photographic recall of the times when you got things wrong or made a mistake. Not only do they recall all the details but, if you can remember the incident at all, what you remember is totally different.   I am sure it has happened to you, it happens to us all. Now have you ever done this to someone else, of course, you have!

The problem when we do this, or when others do it, is that we are not living in the present – we are living in the past. As LP Hartley, author of “The Go-Between”, said ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’  Living in the past we cannot change what has happened, and living in the past stops us from living in the present where we can make choices in creating our future and taking control of our own life. The past holds you back; the present allows you to create your future and your opportunities. A Buddhist parable illustrates the challenge – and value – of letting go of the past.

Two monks were strolling by a stream on their way home to the monastery. They were startled by the sound of a young woman in a bridal gown, sitting by the stream, crying softly. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she gazed across the water. She needed to cross to get to her wedding, but she was fearful that doing so might ruin her beautiful handmade gown.

In this particular sect, monks were prohibited from touching women. But one monk was filled with compassion for the bride. Ignoring the sanction, he hoisted the woman on his shoulders and carried her across the stream–assisting her journey and saving her gown. She smiled and bowed with gratitude as he noisily splashed his way back across the stream to rejoin his companion.

The second monk was livid. “How could you do that?” he scolded. “You know we are forbidden even to touch a woman, much less pick one up and carry her around!”

The offending monk listened in silence to a stern lecture that lasted all the way back to the monastery. His mind wandered as he felt the warm sunshine and listened to the singing birds. After returning to the monastery, he fell asleep for a few hours. He was jostled and awakened in the middle of the night by his fellow monk. “How could you carry that woman?” his agitated friend cried out. “Someone else could have helped her across the stream. You were a bad monk!”

“What woman?” the tired monk inquired groggily.

“Don’t you even remember? That woman you carried across the stream,” his colleague snapped.

“Oh, her,” laughed the sleepy monk. “I only carried her across the stream. You carried her all the way back to the monastery.”

The learning point is simple: Leave it at the stream.

If you want to drive then look ahead, don’t look in the rear-view mirror. All the rear-view mirror can show you is where you have been, it can’t show you where you need to go. And if you try to drive by just looking in the rear-view mirror you will soon find yourself coming off the road! A small change, but one that will free you and help you!

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Freedom and Choice Dilemma

Choosing your own way, and choosing to be free of interference from others in doing so 

What does freedom mean to you?  You will come up with many answers covering many concepts, situations or contexts – but they all fall into one of two categories: freedom from and freedom to.

  •  Freedom to” – this is the freedom to attain certain outcomes and realize our full potential (an ability)
  • “Freedom from” – the absence of others (or things) forcibly interfering with the pursuit of our goals

One must be free in both senses to obtain full benefit from making a choice. You need to have the ability to choose an option and not be prevented from choosing it by any external force. If you go too far to either freedom from or freedom to then your opportunities are limited. So people tend to favor a balance between the two extremes.

Some people, however, tend to lean more one way than another:

  • Freedom From “I am a slave to no man”

Here you see yourselves and others as having high personal control. You tend to favor this as it provides more opportunities to attain personal goals, and because it rewards your effort. Here you have an internal locus of control; you believe you control your life.

This is also known as negative freedom as it is freedom from external interference that prevents you from doing what you want when you want to do it. These restrictions are placed on you by other people. The more negative freedom you have, the fewer the obstacles that exist between you and doing whatever it is you desire.

  • Freedom To “I am my own master”

You believe that your success is primarily determined by external factors, not you. You believe that no amount of effort can guarantee your success. You have an external locus of control.

This is also known as positive freedom, the freedom to control and direct your own life. Positive freedom allows you to consciously make your own choices, your own purpose, and to shape your life; you act instead of being acted upon.

Negative and Positive Freedom Illustrated

Imagine a man driving a car. He comes to a crossroads. There is no traffic light, no police roadblock, and no other cars; the driver is free to turn whichever way he wants to, and he decides to turn left. This is negative freedom; the driver is free from restrictions which force him to go one way or the other. 

But what if the driver turned left because he needed to stop at a convenience store to get cigarettes, and he stopped even though it would mean missing an important appointment? It was his addiction that was really steering the car. This shows a lack of positive freedom; the driver lacked the freedom to do what he really wanted – to get to the appointment on time.

The freedom you have and enjoy varies and is both positive and negative at different times. These types of freedom are not polar opposites, if you are one you are not other, but rather express a blend of freedom you may create or experience for yourself as shown in the continuum.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.