Mar 152013 6 Responses

What A Timeshare Presentation Taught Me About Bad Decisions

This past year I sat through my first timeshare presentation. What I saw was a microcosm of how bad decisions are made.

Sitting in a small cubicle in Orlando, the salesperson promised us a level of satisfaction which we had never known. He believed “we deserved it.” After 50 minutes of getting to know one another, he quickly tried to press through the financial details and make the deal.

He tried to get us to do several things which lead to a bad decision:

Feel entitled. The whole presentation centered around “what we deserved.” The salesperson tried to make us feel as though we were getting cheated and because we worked so hard, we deserved more.

Confuse relationships. A salesperson plays an important role, but they are biased. They are not our enemy, but they are also not our friend. They have a desire which may or may not be in our best interest. The salesperson tried to build a relationship to make it feel as though he was our friend, causing us to forget his true intentions.

Hurry. While the meeting was long, the details of the deal came late and quickly. The salesperson pressed us to make a quick decision. Sign now and think later was the approach. How many great decisions are made in a hurry?

Ignore the facts. A long-term financial agreement should be made based on financial decisions. Is it a good deal or not? The salesperson downplayed the facts and details of the deal and focused on the emotions which went with the decision.

Ignore advice from others. The salesperson was quick to show postcards from all his clients who enjoyed the timeshare, yet we didn’t have time for us to consult financial advisors. He tried to convince us that we had the ability to make such an obvious decision by ourselves.

As I listened to the presentation, something felt familiar. It sounded similar to something. Suddenly it hit me—this is Genesis 3.

The timeshare presentation was a duplication of the original sin of humanity. In the Garden, the serpent made Eve feel entitled to more—as if she was missing out on something. He positioned himself as a friend who had Eve’s best interest at heart. Little time seems to pass between the original temptation and Adam and Eve rebelling against God. They didn’t consider all the facts of what would happen if they ate the fruit. They never consulted God about the decision.

It’s a story which repeats itself every day. Every bad decision can find its roots in the first garden. A sense of entitlement, blurred relationships, hurry, failure to consider the facts, and decision-making in isolation ruined the first humans and continually ruins the rest of us.

From the Garden and a timeshare presentation, we can learn lessons to make better decisions:

Reject entitlement. We deserve nothing. Believing something is owed to us is a dangerous perspective from which to make decisions.

Clarify relationships. Understanding where one’s allegiance lies is vital for decision making. It allows us to interpret the information we are receiving. Information from a friend is different than information from a salesperson which is different from information from a wise advisor. Each has a role to play, but we must remember which role each person is playing. (For more, see Love Your Friends, Don’t Listen to Them)

Slow down. Bad decisions almost always come in a hurry. Sin speeds us up; we need to slow down. This gives us time to do everything possible to make a wise decision.

Focus on the facts. As tempting as it is to focus on emotions and desires, most decisions, especially financial decisions, should be based on the facts. If a timeshare is a wise financial decision, the numbers should prove it as such. If a decision is a wise decision, the details will prove it to be so.

Listen to advice. Never completely trust yourself. Bad decisions not only come in a hurry, they often come in isolation. While a crowd never guarantees wisdom, it can protect against foolishness. Advisors with more knowledge, experience, and objectivity should be sought and followed.

Human decision making can never be perfect because it is HUMAN decision making. Yet there are common characteristics of bad decisions. Avoiding these characteristics can greatly improve the decisions we make.

What would you add as a characteristic of a bad decision?

 

6 Responses to What A Timeshare Presentation Taught Me About Bad Decisions
  1. dennyneff Reply

    I receive a subscription of this blog by email which I’ve gotten behind in reading so if this is “old news” I’m sorry, but I find the greatest advise, mentoring and guidance in reading these. Thank you again. I’ve made my fair share of “bad decisions”. The lessons learned were hard with some so this bit of guidance, if I can just remember it, will go a long way in helping me improve on the decisions I make in the future. So thanks Kevin for the help and keep these coming, please.

    Denny

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  6. Glenn Ransom Reply

    Kevin…in this quote did you mean to say “in” instead of “is”??

    A sense of entitlement, blurred relationships, hurry, failure to consider the facts, and decision-making is isolation ruined the first humans and continually ruins the rest of us.

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