@ Surprise Ride: Thinking Like the Ambidextrous

We are all born with strengths. Some of us are benevolent, some are physically in tune, and some are great decision makers. It is always easy to look at the strengths of one’s friends, neighbors, or adversaries, and wish that you were born with their attributes as opposed to the ones you possess. Until you realize their weaknesses. At that point most people take back their wishes and become content once again with their own capabilities.

Aside from the strengths we are born with, as we go through life we develop skills and characteristics which become unique to our individual selves. Some of these traits are instilled in us by our influencers, some are taught to us in college, and some are picked up from our various life situations. Whether it is nature or nurture which is believed to seal our fates is a debate that probably goes back far earlier than Sir Francis Galton in the early 1800’s. Logic and a multitude of case studies support both sides, and neither side is necessarily wrong. However, while our histories and upbringings are often quick to be blamed for our mistakes and foibles, we are ultimately held responsible for the decisions we make.

Being born ambidextrous is a strength. It means that you are the one-percent of the population who can write, bat, throw, floss, and put contact lenses in with ease, with either hand. It also means that you have the ability to make many more decisions on a regular basis than all those around you. Most of us don’t have a choice in which hand we use, because only one of them will do the job right. You, on the other hand (pun intended), while it may come naturally, have the flexibility and the choice of using either hand. You have an advantage.

But when it comes to making life decisions that do not directly involve our hands, whether you are ambidextrous, a righty, or a lefty doesn't really matter. What matters is what side of the decision you are on. If you have flexibility, the luxury of stalling, or you just don’t care about the outcome, you can take your time and wait to see how things play out. You are essentially ambidextrous. But on the flip side, if your decision is not entirely in your hands but in the hands of someone else (who is probably more powerful than you), you lose your ambidexterity in regards to that specific decision.

We all we want to be able to think like the ambidextrous. We all want flexibility and the power to control the way something will get done and the outcome that will follow. But we don’t all possess that capability. Many of us either weren't born with it or haven't yet developed it; most people never will. Therefore, we must force ourselves not to think like the ambidextrous; not to act as if we have all the time in the world to make decisions, and not to miss the opportunities life presents us because we are waiting for better ones to come.

This is exactly what the founding ladies of Surprise Ride did wrong. Robert, who believed in the two ladies, made an offer. He asked for an additional 15% from what they came in asking for, but it was an offer that fairly reflected the executional risk he felt was prevalent. They, however, pushed Robert’s offer to the side waiting for other Sharks to make offers and hoping for a better one to surface. But it never happened. Then, when Robert retracted his offer, they started begging him to reconsider because they realized their stupid mistake. They should have taken the $100 bill lying on the floor in front of them and not run around it looking for more. They should have embraced the single offer they had and proceed to negotiate with Robert to bring him closer to their valuation. They should have thought like righties and lefties who do not have the luxury of choosing how something will get done, and not like the ambidextrous who have the power to decide. This is a mistake that too many entrepreneurs have made in the Shark Tank, whether they be high-school dropouts or Harvard M.B.A's. Hopefully Surprise Ride and all future Shark Tank entrepreneurs learned a life lesson from the Shark Tank this week: Don’t think like the ambidextrous, unless you are ambidextrous.
Jeff Hopkins