Being In Control – Who Really Call The Shots?


In my previous post “To Always Be In Control”, I shared about the need to be in control over things which we have control over, and also what might happen if we do not, i.e. leaving things to chance. However, if we ponder deeper, have we thought about this – “who” really call the shots in controlling? Is it our HEADS (rational and logical, with reasoning and analysis) or is it our HEARTS (emotional and might be irrational at times).  

I reckon (but stand to be corrected) that most of the times, we choose to believe we are rational folks and think with our heads. Simple example. If we are driving down the highway, we would choose to control our vehicle in a certain logical, sensical and safe way, in one lane at a presumably right speed and to overtake safely. A no-brainer there…

Time management – same thing. We would be controlling and managing our time based on the required things that need to be completed and by when, and in the priority we accorded to them based on logical reasoning. I am sure that here, some levels of emotional nudges do try to sneak in at times, in the form of maybe you trying to coax yourself it is alright to catch up on dramas you are following; but by and large, I believe that we are all driven by the logical sensical heads here. It would be quite bad if otherwise, that’s call procrastination! 🙂


And here’s a gray area, let me share a fictitious example. Final graduating exam is looming in 2 months – full schedule has just been shared by the professor and we should start preparing for it. Here, there are probably 2 camps of folks in this respect.


The first: better-off scholastic folks who confidently know they can do well, but still tell themselves that they should plan meticulously, which they did. They would put in every single thing they deem as important. Studying (of course!), eating, sleeping, exercising, some TV and entertainment downtime, etc. They would also probably go down to the level of details on which chunk of activities will get how much time and when. Or even which subject should get more time slot i.e. they should pay more attention to this round. So we can probably say that this camp is using a more rational and logical mind to methodically control their schedules such that they will get the desired results post-exams –> driven by the positive outcomes; that “I want to get good results”

Now for the other camp, the second: they probably approach this preparation period in the opposite fashion. Why and how? They are worried that they won’t do well, because their previous results were not as good as they expected. Hence, they may lack the confidence in themselves this time around, but deep down they still want to do well. What’s in their mind as they prepare – “Oh! I am scare that I may not do well again, and hence, I will push myself to plan my schedule better this time. Previously I was playing more than studying, I will not this time!” So, are they now using their heads more or their hearts? They are in fact actually planning and preparing based on their emotional worries and scare feeling that they might not do well. End results might be the same as the first group (that they get good results), but the core motivations for both the groups came from two very different sources, isn’t it? –> driven by the negative outcomes; that “I don’t want to get bad results”


Same exam, same results desired, but two very different motivations driving two different groups of people.


Next, let’s look at a situation where I thought people used their hearts more than their heads.

In the recent first MCO announcement on 16th March 2020 which was to commence 18th Mar to 31st Mar, what happened? After the announcement was made, two major things happened and we see a lot of people choosing to use their HEARTS to control their actions:

1) They immediately rushed out to buy and stock up on things that they deem as important, regardless of whether these items REALLY are important and must-have items. For example: people chose to stock up on toilet rolls, which when we analyse and rationalize deeper, we really do not see any usage of toilet rolls in our daily lives as we live out this MCO period, do we? Are there anyone who wants to convince us otherwise, especially for those who did stock up on this item?! VERDICT: Hearts over Heads.

2) They immediately decided to “balik kampung” (going back to their homtowns) late that night itself; very oblivious of what this action would be bringing. Eleven days later, take a look at the pictorial representations below.

This was the number of cases on 16th Mar itself, and note the “ranking” at that point.

Credit: The Star

Look at the explosion of cases in the other states 11 days later, because of the “balik kampung” decisions they made.

Credit: The Star

With the exception of Putrajaya (not being a kampung that is), the highlighted ones were states that were nowhere close to the top on 16th Mar. 

The sharp spike is really telling of how their “heart-driven” actions have actually spread this virus far-and-wide to other areas in less than 2 weeks!

Why would they do that? Your guess is as good as mine, but I am guessing perhaps they thought this was a never-to-happen-again good time for a long holiday break (2 weeks of paid leave is quite unheard of in Malaysia) and it also coincided with school holidays then. They also wanted to be filial sons and daughters to visit their aged parents on a holiday and hence, they did what they did. VERDICT: Hearts over Heads. 

They were not rationalizing with their HEADS on these counts:

1) The possibility of an extension of MCO after 31st Mar – do they have enough clothing packed, do they have good connectivity and bandwidth in their hometowns to be working-from-home (unless they decided not to work during that 2 weeks to begin with).

2) There is a heightened possibility of them bringing this dreaded virus to their aged folks at home who, many reports have now stated and statistics showed, are most susceptible to COVID-19. What more with their pre-existing conditions for most of them!

3) If anything untoward really happened, were they able to get required and sufficient healthcare facilities and care in their kampungs?

I can go further also to describe how during the MCO period so far, there are defiant folks who still go out in droves to wet markets and not maintaining social distancing at all. Again this begs the question, why are they doing this??? Their hearts are probably telling them that they need to continue their normal way-of-lives, what MCO? What virus? It won’t get to me la!


In conclusion, do we have an answer as to who really call the shots? I am struggling to decide on an answer myself, but I feel that we use both at different times, perhaps depending on such criteria as criticality of a situation, who are involved, cost factors, and others

I do not think there is really a right or wrong answer to it, but end day, let’s pray that whatever we decide to do, hopefully, we would not look back later and regret our actions. And that we are at peace with ourselves……..

As usual, stay home and stay safe. May God bless us all!

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