Coming Back From Tiger’s Nest
A couple of years ago, I was returning from the Tiger’s Nest monastery in Bhutan. The path down the hill was dark, heavily forested and wet. I was lazy and ended up getting separated from my tour group. Soon, the muddy path I was travelling on took me so far away that I was lost.
As I went down the path, I met a lot of horrible situations – multiple forks in the road, mosquitoes the size of badams, bogs and swampy holes, angry cows, disappearing paths, streams lined with mossy rocks and angry, feral dogs.
I managed to keep moving because I knew I had to go downward. But, once I hit the ground, I was on flat ground – so any direction was as good as another.
As the sky darkened and the trees started looming and the raindrops started falling lazily, I started getting hysterical.
And I cried.
While I tried wiping away tears with dirty hands, I heard a rhythmic clang of a bell. Prayer bells are very common in Bhutan and this one was on top of a small pagoda, driven by a water wheel. Every time the water wheel turned, it made the bell ring.
Thinking that I would find help near the bell, I kept moving toward the sound. On the way, I had to make several detours – climb over some fallen trees, step carefully around sleeping dogs, chase away a cow with a stick, walk for half a kilometre to cross a deep stream and push through shoulder high bushes.
But no matter what I did, I always made sure that I was moving toward the bell – and safety.
Eventually, I survived and lived to tell this fantastic story again and again.
But, there’s an important and useful lesson here about making decisions.
The Guiding Bell Approach To Better Decisions
As we grow up, we learn that things are not black and white. In fact, everything is just a different shade of gray. There seems to be no absolute right or wrong. In such a confusing situation, making a decision is difficult, if not impossible. In such times, we need a way to make the right decision.
I make my decisions with what I call ‘The Guiding Bell’ approach. At its heart, this approach is all about staying true to my values. I have defined my values after introspection and I ensure that every decision I make is in alignment with those values.
Here’s an example: At work, I’m training a team of smart, headstrong people who have great potential. Inevitably, during the growth process, they make mistakes – things I could easily solve.In fact, I’d save time if I just solved it for them.
However, one of my key values is ‘build to last’. When I’m fixing something, I want it to stay fixed. So, instead of solving my team’s problems, I help them solve it themselves. In the long run, it works out.
Here’s another example: One of my most important values is ‘Don’t be a douchebag.’ This is super important and it helps me get through the day without exploding. More importantly, it helps me in dealing with difficult coworkers and maintain my style and class – even though it would probably be a lot more fun to return to just flip them the finger and walk away.
- Life’s not black and white. Making decisions is rarely easy.
- You could simplify your life by knowing your values and making decisions that align with your values.
- This may not always be satisfying, but you’ll sleep better at night.
- Now, figure out your values. What are the traits that are important to you?