Let us imagine ourselves in a situation – You are making plans to go out for dinner with your spouse/friend/partner/colleague. You want to go to restaurant A, while the other person suggests restaurant B. Owing to the other person’s superior influencing skills/authority/charm, you agree to go to restaurant B. You get there and everything that can go wrong does. You reserved a table which they didn’t hold for you, the restaurant wasn’t serving your favorite dish, you had to wait not just for the food but also the check and the food tasted like it was either under-cooked or stale. Not the kind of evening you had in mind.
Now, think about this – What will your response to this situation be? Would you:
Option A: Tell the other person – I told you we should have gone to restaurant A
Option B: Any other response
The one thing about this scenario, that I am fairly confident about, is that you would have experienced it multiple times. If not with a restaurant, it could be a movie, a holiday destination, career to choose, university to apply for, template to use for a report, a strategic decision for your team/organization, and other such (and important) decisions. Do you tend to go with option A or B?
I will confess I occasionally went with Option A in the past. I would say, “I told you so!” with a certain sense of triumph, remembering to bring the incident up the next time we had to make a decision, to ensure the person felt guilty about ‘influencing’ me the previous time.
And then I watched “Point Break.”
In the opening scene of this recent Hollywood flick (which was a remake of the 1991 movie by the same name), the protagonist Utah and his friend Jeff are riding their bikes on a steep ridgeline. They come to a chasm, and Utah is able to jump across on his bike. His friend, who Utah persuades to jump, dies while trying the stunt. Later in the movie, we discover that years’ later Utah still holds himself responsible for the death of his friend. And that’s when Bodhi, a fellow extreme sports athlete, tells him, “The minute he agreed to make that jump, it was his decision, not yours. You can’t hold yourself responsible for it.”
So when you agreed to go to that restaurant, you have consented. You are now a part of the decision. So if things go right, or not, you are an accomplice. Of course it is important to learn from our mistakes, and possibly not go back to Restaurant A the next time, but let us take equal accountability for that decision and not absolve ourselves by saying, “I told you so!”