NOVEMBER 15, 2020

An amazing thing happens when you stop seeking approval and validation: You find it.

-Mandy Hale

While scrolling through my Twitter feed one day, I came across this tweet by Naval Ravikant, “If you want to make the wrong decision, ask everyone.”  This statement struck like an epiphany to me, urging me to discover the core meaning hidden behind these literal words. When I did realize the true meaning behind these words, I knew I had to share it with you all!

Decision making has been one of the most important factors for the growth of human culture and society. If observed carefully, we will see that some of the key changes that allowed us to evolve into the complex organisms that we are today were simply based on audacious decision making. The first tribe to domesticate a dangerous force like fire about one and a half million years ago would have been bold enough to try and teach dogs how to speak English if they existed in our world. The first tribe to settle down in the plains of Mesopotamia would have been radical enough to completely alter how the bureaucracy of our world works today. Columbus’s ability to persuade the King and Queen of Spain to fund an assumption-based expedition to the east was the pedestal that led to the unification of the whole world with the discovery of America. The claim made by Columbus would not have been less wild than persuading the President of the United States to fund a mission of finding life on the moon.

Audacious decision making has shaped our world and altered how it works. If we did not domesticate fire, we would not have been able to set the stage for the major cognitive revolution that was to come in. If we did not settle down into villages, we would still be shouting with monkeys and chimpanzees while foraging for food in the jungles. If Columbus would not have had the courage to take the decision of finding a route to the east, then our own home would have remained a mystery for us. Such is the power of taking decisions. If we take the right ones, we prosper. If we take the wrong ones, we cringe and regret for almost all of our lives.

Therefore, it is of paramount importance for us to take some of the most important decisions of our life with full awareness, boldness, and understanding. To develop all of these things we need to rationally think about the decision we plan to take and its consequences on us and our surroundings. However, in the search for all these, we make a big mistake that ruins almost all of our efforts and leads us to the wrong decision.

In today’s modern world, the scale of socialization is growing exponentially, allowing us to connect with a vast majority of people across the world. Social media and the internet have allowed us to connect globally and explore new opportunities. In this extremely social world, we try our best to fit in and get accepted in the society out of the fear of missing out in the quickly changing world. We soon form our identity from who we are in the social world because that is what we surround ourselves with.

With these fragile and social selves, whenever we venture into something and then fail or get rejected, the ego and the pride that comes with this identity shatters and a sense of doubt creeps up. In today’s world there are way too many options for people to choose from and therefore getting rejected is very easy. The only problem is that if our identity is based on the social world, then any rejection and failure will threaten our position in the social construct, making us feel doubtful. With this kind of identity, we tend to doubt ourselves more and a sense of inferiority develops. Thus, we seek validation on our decisions from other people. But all we truly need is confidence in ourselves and the right logic behind our actions.

Seeking external validation is the mistake we make, but you may be wondering, “How is seeking external guidance and validation wrong? Doesn’t it help us in gaining new insights?” Well, you are right. Seeking external guidance helps us in understanding the various facets of our decisions or actions, but the intention behind this and the people you seek validation from matters a lot. If you want to learn if the investment that you are making will give you some tax benefits or not, will you ask this from your friend who is a teacher or from a chartered accountant? The answer is the chartered accountant. This is perfectly logical and this kind of external validation is good because it will help you learn more about how to improve your decision. When you seek advice this way you will be satisfied with two or three validations from different chartered accountants. But when you seek advice to know if the people in your social construct accept your decision or not, then you will not be satisfied with two to three responses. In truth, the true reason behind seeking the second kind of external validation is trying to prove to your social circle that you are worthy and capable, which in turn is simply done because you want to protect your social ego and the fragile identity.

If you look rationally, you will realize that your relatives, parents, and friends are not the people from whom you should seek financial advice regarding tax benefits, but the reason you may be doing that is now in front of you. Asking everyone around you if your decision is right will put you in a whirlwind of conflicting views and you will not know which opinion to follow. In the race to seek external validation, you forget about the rational brainstorming and analysis of yours and think that others are right, from which you eventually make the wrong decision. Asking for advice is not wrong, but asking it from everyone is. This is what Naval Ravikant was trying to tell from his tweet.

If the first humans who domesticated fire were to ask other animals if this decision was right, then they would have never reached a proper conclusion and the fire would not have been used to begin the evolution of humans into something superior to animals. If Columbus was to ask every person in his country if taking such a voyage was correct, then our planet would have remained unknown to us. If Abraham Lincoln did not believe in his moral values and the values that founded America, then he would have gone out asking everyone if slavery was right or wrong, and the conflicting views would have put him in ambivalence. And slavery would not have been eradicated.

To take audacious decisions in the right manner, you first must believe in yourself and your rational thinking and analysis. Then you can seek advice from the right people to refine your actions. Going out to people for advice to satisfy your ego of being right and worthy in the social construct will not get you anywhere, and this is what the true meaning of Naval Ravikant’s tweet is. To take the right decisions you need to believe in yourself and seek the right advice from the right people. And if you want to take the wrong decisions and regret the consequences all your life, simply follow what the literal meaning of Naval’s tweet is, “If you want to make the wrong decision, ask everyone.”  

I sincerely thank you for finding the time to read this post. I hope that through this I was able to add some value to your life! If you think someone else may also benefit from this post, share it with them without hesitation! If you have any new views, questions, or feedback on this post, feel free to pin it down in the comment box and I will have an interaction with you over it! You can also connect with me directly on my social media handles or send me a personal email. Looking forward to your thoughts and feedback!

Well wishes,