Are you a victim of wrong decisions?

Decision making
If you are passing through a difficult time at home or workplace, think how your decisions aggravated the situation.

Once Oprah Winfrey said, “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is that when you don’t know what to do, you should do nothing until you figure out what to do because a lot of times you feel like you are pressed against the wall, and you’ve got to make a decision. You never have to do anything. Don’t know what to do? Do nothing.”

Eight years ago, a friend who was well settled at a top TV channel in Karachi, decided to join a new TV channel for growth. Unfortunately, things went wrong there; she is still not settled.

Please do not ask me about some famous media personnel who decided to switch their employers recently. Only time will tell how wise they were.

Thirty-eight years ago, there was a poor student in Daro, district Thatta, who failed to appear in the Class X examinations, because he couldn’t pay fees. Although the boy was very disappointed, he decided to work as a labourer, collect the required money, and appear next year – and he did it. Later, he became the first local director of a reputable private educational institution in Pakistan. I am referring to Dr Muhammad Memon.

If a decision is a choice from two or more alternatives, then we make dozens or hundreds of decisions every day: tea or coffee; biscuits or omelette; burger or biryani; resolving an issue or handling a difficult client, a subordinate, a peer, a supervisor or a loved one, etc. Doing so, we deal with two kinds of issues:

  1. structured: straightforward, familiar and easy; and
  2. unstructured: new and unusual. The latter can make or ruin a person or an institution. Notice the positive and negative impacts of decisions made by people in the above examples.

In decision-making process, usually we confront with two situations:

  1. Taking a rational decision by choosing the best alternative, if we have a clear and specific goal, and know all possible alternatives and consequences.
  2. If we are experienced and understand a situation well, we also make a decision using our intuition, based on our experience, feelings and accumulated judgement.

In any situations, making timely and well-considered decisions is essential in business as well as personal life. Before taking any decision, a wise person always:

  1. defines and clarifies the issue
  2. gathers all facts and understands causes
  3. brainstorms possible options
  4. considers and compares pros and cons of each option
  5. selects the best option
  6. explains his/her decision to those involved and affected, and follows up to ensure proper and effective implementation.

Are you a victim of wrong decisions? What if you had kept in mind the above six points? What if you had compromised or did nothing?

I second Oprah that sometimes doing nothing is much better than making a wrong decision.


Being a journalist


Along with my old colleagues: (left to right) Yousif Sindhi, Mansoor Khokhar, Yaqoob Joyo, Urs Umrani, Syed Fida Hussain Shah, Rasool Bux Sarang (me) and Doongar Dothi. Photo credit: Syed Fida Hussain Shah

In March 1987, when I completed my Secondary School Certificate education, I decided to work part time and continue my education.

I started my career as a trainee calligrapher, initially at two Sindhi dailies Sindh News and Aftab in Hyderabad, and later switched to a leading media group.

While working there, I did the multitasking: from calligraphy, proofreading, translation and sub-editing to writing. Within four years, I was the editor of weekly magazine.

My boss was basically a newspaper hawker, who became a manager with his dedication. Since he was not a journalist, during all these years, I was a free man to write whatever I liked. When I recall some incidents, I realise that sometimes I was like a bull in a china shop.

Once I visited Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Hyderabad station, locally known as Radio Pakistan Hyderabad. When I entered a producer’s room without knocking, I noticed that his hand was rested on a female writer’s hand. They were speechless. After a few days, the incident was part of my radio roundup section.

I remember the day when the female writer, who happened to be one of our columnists, walked towards my desk with a horrible face.

“Do you understand what you have done? Do you realise what would happen if my relatives see this? Do you know in which circumstances women work? Mr, if I lodge a complaint, you can lose your job RIGHT NOW, but I am not doing so,” she almost screamed at me.

I was shaking and managed to say, “I… I… apologise…”

“Apologise?” she shouted. “After doing all this, you are just saying ‘apologise’?” she stared at me for a long time and then left.

Another incident. When I was in charge of a funny question-and-answer section, a girl asked, “I noticed you bowing down in the market a few days ago. What did you pick up?” I replied, “It was a hair-removing soap. Was it yours?”

Next day, I had a hearing and my boss delivered a long lecture on ethics.

In the same section, once I created a funny name. Unfortunately, it was a mix of a religious figure’s name and an animal. Next day, a delegation of religious scholars visited our head office, broke some office furniture, threatened the staff and left with a warning “do not do it again!”

In the very same radio roundup, I also criticised a lisping presenter. After listening to a long lecture again, I came to know that actually he was a relative of our media house owner.

When I look back, I realise that although I was not on the wrong side every time, I could have avoided many incidents if I had been trained properly or worked under the mentorship of a senior journalist.

Today, sometimes when I watch TV and listen to radio while driving, I also realise that some of them are accidental journalists. They sound like me, when I was an amateur journalist in 90s. They can ridicule anybody they like. Many times, they break a news first and then verify the facts.

Based on my personal experiences, I firmly believe that all this can be improved with proper education, training and mentorship of senior journalists. Today’s journalists are very lucky that they can find free training resources, and easily get in touch with media icons online.