Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The wisdom of setting goals
One seminal economics study even argued that the difficulty of finding a cab on a rainy day can be blamed on the personal goals of cabbies. The 1997 paper found that cab drivers tend to have a set amount of money they aim to make every day. When it's raining they hit that target faster, since more people want cabs, so the cabbies quit earlier in the day. This narrow focus on a goal hurts everybody in the system - it shrinks the taxi supply just when demand is highest, leaving more people standing on the curb getting wet, and it hurts the cabbies themselves, who miss a chance to maximize their income on their most lucrative days.
According to the book "Think and Grow Rich" written by Napoleon Hill, the method by which the DESIRE for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent, consist of 6 definite, practical steps.
1) Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire
2) Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as "something for nothing")
3) Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire
4) Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once.
5) Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
6) Read you written statement aloud, twice daily, once before you sleep and once after you awake in the morning.
Setting just a goal isn't enough. You need to act upon your goals you have set. I like to set my goals very high.
On the other hand, there are people who set goals that are far too easy to achieve, never really challenge themselves and end up not maximizing their true potential in whatever it is they are doing. This is why setting realistic goals that are challenging but realistic is so important.
There is a common morality lesson to be learned here; something that most people were introduced to sometime in their lives but might have forgotten: it's not where you're going that matters, but how you get there.
An example of an application of this would be with the subject of war; some describe war as completely justified as a means to an end, that end being peace. It is something that can be considered as necessary to bridge the gap between differences in ideas and cultures. An alternative to this could be non-violent forms of dissent. What makes an individual choose one path towards the goal of peace over another? If the benefits from a specific goal outweigh the costs from taking a specific path, than committing acts that would normally be deemed as immoral becomes acceptable. If however, the costs from that same path (to clarify, assuming it is murder from war), outweigh the benefits of peace, than an alternative path would be sought out. In this example, the paths are clearly divided on different sides of a clear moral line, killing and not killing.
Specifically for taxi drivers, however, it is a decision that is much smaller in scale, and thus much easier to be "immoral" about. Though it is very difficult to divide the decision taxi drivers face on a rainy day into morally right and wrong choices, I will try. The goal of any job is to earn money. During rainy days, this goal becomes easier to accomplish, and even surpass. Assuming that the goal of earning money is long-term, and the meager earnings from a single day can never accomplish that goal, there should be no reason why a taxi driver would not take advantage of the increased business on a rainy day in hopes of earning more money in the long-run. So, the "moral" and perhaps more sensible decision is to work on rainy days. The "immoral" decision, on the other hand, would then be laziness or acceptance of mediocre performance in the face of the potential to earn more.
1.) If all drivers meet a quota, then it will be impossible to tell who the better drivers are.
2.) If all drivers meet a quota, the profits will remain stagnant and no surprise profits could be lowered. Sure the system doesn't allow for losses, but it doesn't exactly yield itself to future growth.
In this case, I don't think goals necessarily are negative, I think this is just a classic case of bad goal setting. Better goal setting would be to set really high goals with the expectation that only the best can reach them. Then reward accordingly. Those who don't meet goals would stand out and could be further examined.
So, sometimes a commission system should use these jobs.
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