When Marissa Mayer completed her master’s degree in computer science in 1999, she had 14 job offers. While this sounds like an abundance of riches to most of us, I think we can also understand what a difficult decision she faced. How to choose? How to make the “right” choice from among all the options? And what if she made the “wrong” one?
Being the analytical type, Marissa decided to weigh the pros and cons of each job, as a method of zeroing in on the best one. She made charts and graphs comparing salary, location, opportunities to advance, and all the other factors of each position - and collapsed in frustration, as this exercise wasn’t getting her any closer to a decision.
Then a friend gave her some advice: maybe there wasn’t a “right” answer here. There were options. Some of the options were, perhaps, better than others. But it was flawed reasoning to believe that somewhere on the list was the one right choice, all of the others were wrong, and that if she chose one of the “wrong” options, she’d be doomed to unhappiness.
The friend urged her to consider the situation differently, to see that whichever of the “good” options she chose, she’d probably be happy, and be able to make a successful career. While there’s always the road not taken, there are times in life where we just have to make a selection and go with it.
Marissa followed her gut and chose Google, which at the time was a start-up with a dozen employees. Some thought she was crazy. Today she’s worth $300 million (and has recently left Google to take a job with Yahoo).
The next time I’m agonizing over a choice, fearful of making the “wrong” one, I hope I remember this story. Sometimes there isn’t one right choice, there’s a selection among options, and more than one of them might lead to happy endings.