Don’t Let Optics Override Outcomes
April 6, 2021
It is human nature to wish that everyone appreciates what we do. However, when this craving for external validation and approval is very high, we get into the terrible habit of choosing optics over outcomes. Signaling becomes everything. We are more interested in appearing virtuous instead of actually being virtuous.
Here are four warning signs that indicate you are focusing on optics.
- There is a decision to make, and the thought in my mind is not about making the right decision; it is about whether I can defend my decision or not.
- I am grappling with two choices. I know in my heart and mind what the right decision is, but I am knowingly choosing what is defendable over what is right. In my mind, I am thinking, “Why do I need to take the headache of pushing for the harder decision ?”
- I constantly think this is what my boss would want. I am more worried about being on the boss’s right side instead of making the right decisions for myself.
- Left to myself, I would make a different decision than the one I take. I am rationalizing to myself, “Why should I swim against the tide and get exposed.”
Any decisions you take, if they turn out well over time, will positively reflect on your reputation and how people perceive you. However, if your decision-making is biased in favor of optics-making yourself look good- the outcome will likely be sub-optimal. And, it will impact your reputation too. The world will see you as someone who takes the easy way out. And, the very people you are trying to please will not trust you.
In summary, good decision-making is all about choosing outcomes over optics. Value never comes easy. It is always in the difficult choices that real value is embedded.