A few days back, I was helping my seven year old daughter , studying in second standard, with her preparation for Olympiad Exams- there were more of multiple choice questions , and what I noticed was , in cases where she wasn't sure of the answer, she quickly mastered the method of first eliminating the 2 or 3 wrong options and then focusing on the remaining probables to arrive at the best answer ! And when my curiosity took over, she gladly calmed me by letting me know she had picked this up from the ever so popular TV show, "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (adapted from 'Who wants to be a Millionaire'), hosted by none other than Big B , - where Mr. Bachchan has indeed been gracious enough to let participants strike off the wrong options before locking in the correct answer, in some cases .. Amusing , isn't it !
It kind of pushed me down the memory lane of my own student days and I recalled that techniques as these were learnt by us when we were close to appearing in professional competitive exams and were as grown up as having cleared our 12th standard ! And there again, I remember Multiple choice questions could make or break your test scores if you didn’t know how to approach them.
The adoption of such methodologies for exams and of such tricks at such a young age as that of my daughter may not be the best thing to happen , and this I shall leave for the time being, to be discussed for later..
However, interestingly what I want to take up right now is the fact that things do get simplified and decision making becomes easier with - "smart elimination before selection " as one of the initial steps !!
Again going back to the lot of competitive exams - citing the case of paucity in the number of seats available in Medical and Engineering Colleges in our country, for example, "elimination again remains the guiding criteria for declaring final results"- it doesn't matter whether one scored 90% or 80% or 70 %, if there are say 300 seats, then the top 300 scorers get through - and therefore what really matters is how well you faired the elimination criteria , simple !!
All these examples have used "rejection" based on certain "constraints" as a successful method of narrowing down on options and making quick decisions ! So how does that work for us in all areas of our life ?
As a Success Coach and as an Optimist, I have always stood for the power of making choices and the existence of endless possibilities in one's life !!
Come to think of it, we end up making choices both big and small throughout every single day of our life. What do we want to have for breakfast? What time should we meet a friend for dinner? What college should one go to? How many children do you want to have?
When faced with some decisions, we might be tempted to just flip a coin and let chance take over, however in most cases, we follow a certain strategy in order to arrive at a decision.
For some of the complex and important ones, we are more likely to invest a lot of time, research, effort, and mental energy into coming to the right conclusion. At initial stages of decision making then , when one is confronted with too wide a choice and uncertainty beyond someone's grasp - be it career, marriage, business or any other context- it is indeed a great way to refer to the elimination method - first establish the criteria of what's really important to us - and when an item fails to meet the criteria - cross the item off our list of options. Our list of possible choices gets smaller until we eventually circle down to a few options .., - tremendous energy saved and good riddance from ambiguity ..! Talking of Coaching , I have seen this type of sequential elimination proving useful to some of my clients especially those in the process of making career decisions.
Needless to say, what plays a crucial role is to be clear enough of our own values and what really matters to us when establishing the yardstick of elimination , and at what stage ! The temptation to surrender to negative beliefs or remaining stuck in our comfort zone can sometimes take a toll, and therefore one needs to understand the big picture with an open mind !
Another interesting implication of this could very well be put to use by businesses, marketers and salespersons - who need to be extremely close to the decisionmaking biases of their potential customers.By knowing in advance what elimination criteria is being widely used to filter the umpteen choices available to a consumer, before finally zeroing in on a certain set of options - they could benefit immensely in redefining their product / service / marketing campaigns !
Great artists do this too, and the quote by Pablo Picasso talks of his personal philosophy , “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.”
I had read somewhere that when it came to his design philosophy , Steve Jobs too, was always obsessed with eliminating the unnecessary — eliminating buttons, confusing additions in user-interface, and removing complexity.
The Zen and Taoist masters have also been attributed with sayings such as — to become a master is to eliminate one superfluous thing everyday, rather than adding one thing a day.
I would love to hear from my readers, where all do you see such elimination at play while making decisions in your own life and how does it serve a purpose !