Self Control and Rational Decision Making

‘Rational Decision-making’ is a process wherein the mind logically sorts out all thoughts and applies them in a reasonable fashion. Rationality means consistency in thought and action on the one hand, and logic and lucidity on the other. However, in whichever sense rationality is interpreted, it is widely used in decision-making.

Just as the mind plays an important role in expressing self-control over actions and emotions, similarly it is an important facet of decision making as well. Whatever decision is made is done based on guidance from the mind (i.e., the brain). It is usually understood that the left side of the brain pertains to logical thinking while the right side enhances creativity. Therefore, when using the right side (to take decisions), the role of self-control enters the arena. This self-control and restraint is applied to strengthen the logical thoughts over the creative thoughts. Hence, it is this left side of the brain that applies the necessary self-control.

Every adult individual has to make decisions in different spheres of his/her life and these decisions must be steeped in reality rather than be irrational. However, it is human nature to err and some decisions will be irrational; or else, how will anyone learn?

Businesses are not run on emotions but on facts and procedures. To be successful in the workplace, it is imperative that decisions are made logically and can be explained at every stage. Therefore, self-control needs to be used when emotions enter the scene or when certain things are done according to the desires of a single (or a few people). Self-control over such desires leads to logical thought on what is right or wrong for an organization as a whole.

Senior managers in any organization are usually people who are highly restraint (self-controlled) in their interactions and take decisions only after much consideration and thought. Irrational decisions can lead to a loss for the organization. At these senior management levels, certain amount of personality mapping is done to ensure that the personalities of the executives match that of the organization so that the decision-making is in tandem with business goals. As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had stated, “He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”.

Both self-control and rationality are traits that emerge in humans along with maturity. We cannot expect a child of six years to be rational and exhibit self-control, as he/she is immature. However, adults whether educated or uneducated are supposed to be wiser and thereby should utilize self-control towards rational decision-making.

Man is not born with logic and sense of reason; it is not ingrained but developed over time. Some decisions will be made in an impromptu manner without much thought while other decisions may be pondered upon for an unduly long time. Self-control should be used judiciously, especially in matters that are of a profound nature. Smaller, daily decisions, which may not have deep repercussions, can be made without the application of any form of restraint. However, if a mistake has been made (i.e., a wrong decision has been taken), the person at fault must accept this; and to do so, much willpower is required, which in itself is a form of self-control.

A rational approach also means a balanced outlook. To have such balance, a person needs to be completely levelheaded and must weigh the pros and cons before taking any decisions. In order to do so, some amounts of self-control will have to be applied in certain areas so as not to tip the scales in favour of one side.

Therefore, the use of self-control is extremely important towards rational decision-making.

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