The title of this blog post comes from a joke I heard long ago about picking up a spouse at the airport.
Essentially, the man had three viable options and he was wrong no matter which he chose, since the “right” answer was hidden option D, involving waiting at the gate with flowers (clearly a pre 9/11 joke).
I find myself thinking of this joke often, as it relates to what matters in our jobs and how we choose to spend our time.
I find that ofttimes people perceive a conspiracy against them, where the real problem is that they have failed to accurately assess their options.
In other words, they did not know about hidden option D.
It is rare that I talk to a company or a manager about how they determine the right people for key roles where they don’t use some amount of hidden option D in their mental math.
In fact, like many things, the reason that these options are hidden is that they are not well understood by the decision-maker themselves. They are often non-verbal and “gut feel” elements that weigh very heavily on the choice.
If you find yourself working hard, achieving results, and not moving forward, I recommend you spend some time making sure that you have checked for hidden option D.
I would guess you have accidentally missed it and no one is telling you.