Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life’s Battles Don’t Always Go
 to the Faster Man

Here's another sample from my book Quiet Determination, unlocking the gates to unlimited success"

Am I Tough Enough ?
Emmanuel was now at a higher level of difficulty in his piano  studies. It was nothing for him to sit at the piano practicing for hours everyday.  As time passed and the composers' compositions , became more complicated, more difficult, it required more effort both mentally and physically.
He had to analyze the music trying to figure out what the composer was trying to say both emotionally and figuratively.
Much more was demanded of all of his facilities now. Attention to detail was the new mantra.

As the difficulty of the music increased, so did the amount of time that Emmanuel spent practicing increase. By now he was spending two hours a day at the piano. To the layman, his practice regimen seemed effortless, but  in reality he was expending a tremendous amount of energy during his practice time, just as much as any elite athlete. There were a several times when he would have to wipe the sweat from  his brow.

One Saturday afternoon Emanuel's mother had dispatched him on a shopping errand to the corner grocery store. On the way back home  Emmanuel ran into Mr. Johnstone, his neighbour from across the road.

" Hi there Emmanuel, how are things going?"

"Oh everything is fine, Mr. Johnstone. Things are going well at school. I may be up for a scholarship this year at school, and my blues band, Modern Science, is playing a lot of gigs around town."

" Speaking about music," said Mr. Johnstone, " It seems like every time I pass your house... it could be when I'm walking to the bus stop on my way to work at seven every morning,  or coming home in the evening, even when I'm out in the yard doing chores on the weekend...I see you through the picture window in your living room. There you are. You always seems to be sitting at the piano, practicing away.  I'm always saying to my wife, ' Man! I don't know where that kid gets all of his energy to practice like he does. Seems like he's always at it.’
How do you do it Emmanuel? "

Mr Johnstone paused for a short moment as if to watch Emanuel's reaction to what he has just said, before he continued. " When I sit at my desk in the office at work, I always have get up regularly to stretch out my aching back and legs, and air out my head, and I'm not half even as busy as you seem to be, so involved, so deep in concentration.  Sometimes, if the sun is shining in at the right angle, I can see a real intense look of determination in your face. How do you do it?"

"Well Mr. Johnstone, "said Emmanuel,  after having waited patiently for his turn to reply," it's not as easy as it looks. I've got a lot of mental an physical  stamina because I keep myself in good physical condition. I run six kilometres every other day. On the off days I work out in the gym.
 and of course I my mom makes sure I eat three well great meals everyday.
If I don't keep myself physically fit, I find that I don't have enough energy to do all the things I need to do in the day.
If I come down with the flu or a cold, forget it! I can hardy sit up straight at the piano, let alone move my fingers. Playing the piano at my level takes a lot of energy. That's why I always make sure that I get 8-10 hours of sleep every night."

"What ! Ten hours of sleep ?" cried Mr. Johnstone, in disbelief. "I wish I the luxury of sleeping that much every night."

Noting the surprise and veiled admonition in Mr. Johnstone's voice, Emmanuel replied,
" Do  you know that it's a proven fact that athletes need much more sleep,than regular people. Do you know that rest for an athlete is just as important as exercise?

In their quest to be the fastest, smartest, strongest, the best in their sport, athletes tax their minds and bodies at a far higher level of intensity than regular the regular population.We demand three, or four times as much from our bodies and minds as most people do. That, Mr. Johnstone, is why I need more sleep than the average person. I'm doing double duty as both a pianist and athlete.

The Victor by C.W. Longenecker

If you think you are beaten, you are.

If you think you dare not, you don’t

If you like to win but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t. 

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind. 

If you think you are outclassed, you are.

You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

The Take Away

Through years of experience, trial and error, Emmanuel learned that his musical goals were no different than those of any world-class athlete's. He realized that it takes the same energy, strength, stamina that elite athletes needed in their quest for success, to achieve his own goals. He applies this philosophy to all of his life's goals, regardless of their nature.

Professional coaches would say that Emmanuel has a lot of mental toughness, which is in itself, the difference between success and failure. Most people overlook mental aspects when faced with situations that require an enhanced level of performance, effort, or ability. Mental toughness is a term that's used in sport psychology. Sport psychology is a science that employs kinesiology and psychology, in the study of how psychological factors affect performance and how participation in sport and exercise are affected by psychological and physical factors. The same strategies that sport psychologists teach athletes, such as relaxation techniques, visualization, are valuable in any environment where humans endeavour to achieve success.

Because of the highly competitive nature of business today, corporations who consider themselves to be on the cutting edge, think of themselves as winning teams, and as a result, they are employing psychologists to work with their employees as the company endures endless amounts of stress and tribulation. The stress of trying to increase productivity while lowering costs; the stress of working on projects for extended periods of time; the stress of synchronizing employees' individual goals with the company's group's goals.

In the stratosphere of competition, it's mental toughness that determines which individuals fall apart under pressure. Mental toughness is the stuff that allows winners to rebound after defeat or personal failure.
Just like a determined world class athlete, Emmanuel has developed, implemented and continues to maintain the concept of mental toughness throughout his personal life.

Achieving success in any situation means going far beyond pure physical talent. You have to tap into the ‘psychology of winning’ by using an arsenal of many different mental ingredients. In the world of the professionals from all walks of life, 85-90% of the game is mental.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What's Your Inspiation

Self-Efficacy... the mother of Self-Confidence
 "People’s level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe, than on what is objectively the case.” Dr. Albert  Bandar

Self-efficacy refers to the strength of your belief in your own ability to successfully achieve your goals, or the ability you have to persist at a particular task.
In the real world it could be a measure of how long you will stick to your exercise regimen or weight loss diet.
Psychologist Dr. Bandura’s initial research on self-efficacy investigated the individual's release of neurotransmitters and stress-related hormones into the bloodstream when confronted by a stressful or threatening environment. His research resulted in research participants overcoming lifelong phobias within a matter of  hours. Participants even engaged in activities they otherwise never would have attempted because they now felt they had more control of themselves.

The bottom line of Dr. Bandura’s research on self-efficacy is that belief in one’s capabilities helps you to control and regulate all of the circumstances in your life, all of which will ultimately impact the direction of your life and the person you become in all aspects of your life, including, education, health, athletics, business, medical, social and political change, moral development etc.. No one is exempt from perceived self-efficacy.

A person with high self-efficacy believes in their abilities which in turn affects their motivation, confidence, choices, toughness, and above all, their determination. High or low self-efficacy determines if you choose to accept a challenging task or dismiss it as an impossibility.

A person with high self-efficacy is not bothered by setbacks, because they know that failure is a result of external circumstances, and not some manner of personal weakness.
Dr. Bandurar’s self-efficacy theory holds that self-efficacy and self-confidence are not one in the same thing. Confidence is a general overall strength of belief in your capabilities, such as,” I think I’m a very good writer. Self-efficacy is the belief in one's capabilities to be successful at something very specific, such as, “ I’m a great poet.”
According to the self-efficacy theory, self-concept is not to be confused with self-confidence. Self-concept is a judgement of self-worth.  Self-concept is an appraisal of self, rather than an appraisal of an independent goal. It’s not a question of “can I do it ?” rather a question of, “Do I feel like doing it ?”

Individuals who have an general sense low self-efficacy tend to focus on personal deficiencies, lack of skills, and self-doubts. They are often stymied by obstacles, tend to exert less effort, and set lower goals, all of which results in underachievement and an overall lack of success. Research shows that this group is less likely to recover from setbacks and have high rates of stress and depression.
It should be restated that even though one’s perception of one’s own self-efficacy level is not necessarily accurate, nor incorrect, your perception will still influence your choice of activities and environmental settings. Therefore individual activities will either be avoided or undertaken.

It’s perfectly normal for any individual to have a perceived low self-efficacy in certain areas of their life, and high perceived high self-efficacy in other areas. “ I can learn new languages very easily, but I’m lousy at mathematics.”
It’s impossible to acquire mastery of every realm of human life. People choose an area in which to cultivate their efficacy, and the level to which they develop it.

The 4 Sources of Perceived Self-Efficacy
The foundation of self-efficacy comes from social learning theory that is based on the premise that people learn through social interactions where observation of others and the mimicking of their behaviors is a key part of social learning theory.
Social learning dictates that in order for someone to perform a desired behavior, he/she must believe that: a) they can perform the behavior b) they must believe that the benefits of performing the behavior outweigh the costs
It's important to understand your current level of self-efficacy and in so doing, you will be able to identify areas where you can improve, and make a plan to do so.
1.Mastery Experiences
People  gain mastery of new skills through workshops, training programs, internships, lessons and clinical experiences. When we attempt to do something and are successful at it, we have mastered it.
Repeated success at mastery boosts our sense of self-efficacy, but, if mastery comes easy or with little or no effort, and the work ethic has ultimately not been learned, one may become vulnerable when faced with challenges.
Conversely someone who has overcome many challenges on the way to mastery will have a more accurate high sense of self-efficacy

2.Social Modeling
This is watching other people do something and then making a judgement of your own capabilities to successfully master the same activity.                                       “If he can do it, then I can certainly do it”.                                                                   “If she can’t do it, there’ no way I could ever dream about doing it”.

3.Social Persuasion
Someone can be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve your goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.
In Emanuel’s case it was his teacher who believed in his ability and told him that he was certainly good enough to perform in her student recital, even though he was a relatively new piano student.
Conversely someone can also be persuaded to believe that they do not have the skills and capabilities to succeed. This is what's called SNIOPing. More about SNIOPing in chapter 11of, Quiet Determination, unlocking the gates to unlimited success!".
4.Emotional States
Our responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A concert pianist who becomes extremely nervous before performing on stage may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy, also known as stage fright.
It’s not the emotional and physical reactions that is important, but rather how they are perceived and interpreted, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure to perform the feared tasks. If you learn how to minimize stress and your elevate mood in the face of a challenging task, you can improve your sense of self-efficacy.
The 4 Psychological Processes of Perceived Self-Efficacy
Every task is preceded by thoughts about your capability to carry out the task as well as the consequences that executing the task brings.
 Actions are motivated by something, be it the expected outcomes of, or the goals of the action.
This is the perceived efficacy of your ability to cope with the stress that comes with  handling challenges.
This last process is the decision as to what activities that you feel you are capable of, while avoiding activities you perceive to be incapable of doing successfully. Life is molded by the choices we make.

Measuring Self-Efficacy
As I mentioned earlier,that as an individual, your self-efficacy is made up of your overall personal efficacy, which  stems from an endless list of eclectic domains which include areas such as: problem solving, athletics, parental, management, artistic... only to name a few.
There’s no one-size-fits-all method of measuring self-efficacy.  Each domain exists within it’s own exclusively unique situation and circumstance, and thusly each domain must have a unique “scale” of perceived self-efficacy as measured by a unique set of influential factors.

In order to measure the perceived self-efficacy for any particular domain, all the behavioral aspects of the domain must be considered, and care must be taken to ensure that any factors in the scale that can’t be linked to the domain, must be rephrased or tossed out.

Therefore, determining your self-efficacy in regards to your ability to water ski would include items such as: balance, strength, willingness to learn new things, agility, but, your ability to write poetry has no place in the scale of things to be measured.

How to Build a Self-Efficacy Scale
Brainstorm to make a list of challenges that might keep you from performing a particular task/behavior.
Rate your ability to meet or surpass any of given challenges (barriers) on a sliding scale from 0-10, or 0-100.

Because people always hope that they will one day be capable of a certain task or behavior, we naturally rate ourselves higher than the ability we actually possess in the here and now. In order to make your response as unbiased as possible it’s a good idea to take a practice run on a simple a simple unrelated subject, such as, “I can do 50 push ups.”

What‘s in your corner?
Get yourself a pen and paper and write your answer to the following questions, in as much detail as possible. Notice I said “write your answer”, and not “think about” your answer. Seeing your thoughts in a concrete form, inspires even more thoughts,deeper thoughts.

What’s your inspiration for doing whatever it is that you do ?
Why do you go to work everyday?
Who else besides you, will benefit from your achievements ?

Building an unlimited sense of self-efficacy a major player in the key to unlimited success. Self-confidence, by way of self-efficacy, affects your performance and how satisfied you are with the choices you make, the effort you put in, how you feel, and how long you persist when confronted with an obstacle.
Select an area of your personal or professional life where you would like to challenge yourself, change, fix, repair, improve etc. and measure your own perceived self-efficacy using the steps outlined in the How to Build a Self-Efficacy Scale above.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Am I Good Enough ?

Here's another chapter from my book, "Quiet Determination, unlocking the gates to unlimited success!"

It was early December,on a Tuesday afternoon,Emmanuel was seated at the piano,during his weekly lesson with Miss Jameson. He had been taking lessons for about six months now an due was starting to really enjoy it.
Miss Jameson looked at him and said,
"You know Emmanuel, I see that you're turning out to be quite a good little pianist already. You're not child prodigy, but you do show much promise as a musician. I think I'm going to have you perform at my annual student recital this spring. I usually wait until my students have had at least two or three years experience under their belt, but you've progressed so quickly,I think you're up for the challenge."

"What's a recital,"asked Emmanuel?

"That's where you,and all of my other students play in front your parents, and all of the parents of my other students. Of course your friends and relatives are all invited to attend as well."

Unknown to Emmanuel at the time, the one thing you can always count on,when it comes to piano lessons -any lessons involving the performing arts for that matter- is that there is always going to be some kind of public performance at sometime during the year. It's usually in spring or around Christmas time.

Recitals serve four different purposes.
1. The main purpose of recitals is to spotlight the student.It acknowledges their hard work,talent,and dedication. Most of all it builds their self-confidence and self esteem, all of which are invaluable qualities necessary to help their character as they mature into adulthood.
2. Recitals show parents that their money was well spent
3. Recitals are the teacher's proof to the parents,by way of their child's performance,that he/she is in fact a fantastic teacher.
4. In that goals number 2 and 3 above are met,recitals preserve the teacher's cash flow.

"Oh,I don't know if I can do that Miss Jameson? I've never performed in public before". Do you really think I'm good enough?

Miss Jameson beamed with pride and encouragement,as she rested her hand gently on his shoulder," I think that you are a remarkable young man. I have every confidence that you will perform magnificently! I know that you can do it.I also know that your parents will be extremely proud of you!"

The praises she had given,coupled with the faith that Miss Jameson's had in him, filled Emmanuel with excitement and confidence. He didn't want to disappoint his teacher nor his parents,so he set about practicing even more diligently everyday, not worrying that this was the first time that he was ever going to be playing in public; on a big stage;in a big auditorium; on a huge twelve foot grand piano… with people watching!

Before you know it the recital came and went. Emmanuel was a great hit. While taking his bows, while acknowledging the standing ovation from the audience, he felt so elated. He realized that all his hard work had paid off handsomely.He was brimming with pride, and a sense of great accomplishment. His spirits soared like a mighty Alaskan eagle, gliding so smoothly, so effortlessly above the mountain tops, surveying his domain spread out endlessly below.

He surprised himself at how well he had performed,realizing that he had progressed from a state of self-doubt,when he asked his teacher, "Am I good enough?",to basking in the praise and adoration, in a concert mostly filed with complete strangers, all of who confirmed Emmanuel's talents and ability.

The Take Away
To understand how Emmanuel prepared himself for such unexpected success we have to examine a physiological phenomena that scientists are only just now beginning to understand. During his daily piano practice, Manny's body was busy producing a very special substance,that every human being produces in varying amounts. This special substance is called myelin.

In his book,The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle talks about the days of old, before scientists discovered air-born germs.People often got ill for no apparent reason. Doctors couldn't attribute the cause to a definite source,so they blamed it on something they called "ether". It was something invisible that they couldn't see,taste,touch or feel. They only saw the results. You can't see,feel,touch or taste myelin either. You can only sense it's effects. Myelin enables us to carry out both mental and physical skills to varying degrees of ability.

Scientists use myelin as a model to help us understand what skill really is.
As humans, our mental and physical skills are created by chains of nerve fibres carrying electrical impulses.
Myelin wraps around those nerve fibres, in much the same way that rubber insulates electrical wiring in our homes, making it faster and more powerful by blocking electrical impulses from leaking out, or short circuiting. As we "practice" a new layer of myelin wraps around the neural circuit, adding more insulation, and thereby adding more skill, more speed.

Dr. G. Bartzokis, a UCLA neurologist researcher  backs up Coyles research. He says that, "All skill, all languages, all music, all movements are made of living circuits, and all circuits grow according to certain rules."

According to another book written by Daniel Coyle,The Little Book of Talent, there are two more elements that must accompany talent.
1.Ignition: This is the desire, or dream of learn something." I want to be the next…."!
2.Coaching: These are the talent whisperers,who, because of their deep knowledge and experience in certain areas, know how to expertly guide their students.

Emmanuel had both of these things in his corner.
He had a burning desire to use his talents to make his parents proud of him.
He also pictured himself performing on stage, in front of hundreds of people. He pictured himself taking a bow, perhaps receiving a bouquet of flowers. He dreamt he would be a star. He was ignited. "Houston, we're ready for lift-off"!

Miss Jameson, knew that Emmanuel had great potential as a pianist. She was confident that he would be good enough to perform in the recital, because she was confident in her own skills as a coach. She was a coach who knew how to prepare her student mentally an physically for unlimited success.

Of course,both of these elements open the door for what's commonly known as practice. Emmanuel dedicated himself to regular,daily practice. Each day he got better and better. Everyday he wrapped his nerve fibres with another layer of myelin. With every layer of myelin he added another layer of skill. He was on the road to success.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Did You Make the Right Decison ?

The Theory of Decision Making
Decision making is the analysis of a complex set of situations/predicaments, each of which has many different and possible alternatives, with each alternative having many different and possible consequences, the best of which will identify a method of action that is compatible with the basic economic and psychological needs of the decision maker.

Decision making consists of 6 steps:
•Identifying the predicament/situation
•Specifying the criteria for choosing a particular solution(colour,cost,time,size etc.)
•Creating alternatives
•Analyzing and compare alternatives
•Choosing the best alternative
•Implementing that alternative

Decisions are made in three classic environments.
Certainty: The decision maker is basing their decisions on information that they know is true and will confidently choose the alternative that has the highest payoff
Uncertainty: The decision maker does not have any reliable information on which to base their decisions or they lack the confidence the information that they do have already.
Risk: The decision maker is basing their decisions on information that is probably true as garnered from estimates from experts or reflected in historical references.

For The Record:
Probability was originally defined as “ A measure of likeliness, that an event will occur.” In contrast, the contemporary definition of probability is, “ a measure of the weight of empirical evidence, and is arrives at from inductive reasoning and statistical inference.”

Decision Making Tools
Decision Analysis was coined in 1964 by Stanford professor, Ronald Howard. It’s used by many major corporations in making huge billion dollar investment decisions. In 2010, Chevron won the Decision Analysis Society Practice Award for its own use of decision analysis.
Watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRCxZA6ay3M ) featuring Chevron’s Vice Chairman George Kirkland who champions decision analysis as an integral part of how Chevron does business for one simple, and powerful reason. It works!

You should be be wary of what is called “analysis paralysis”. It's over-analyzing/thinking a situation to the point where decision is never made nor is one put into effect, ultimately paralyzing the outcome. It’s better to at least try something and then make a change if need be. A perfect solution might not always be achieved instantly, however, the fear making any decision must not block your way to a better solution.

Calculations can get very complex if there numerous values are uncertain and/or if many outcomes are linked. In spite of a couple possible short comings, research shows that the utility of decision analysis in creating decision-making algorithms are superior to that of raw intuition.

Some of the outstanding advantages of decision analysis include:
•Simple to understand and interpret.
•Valuable even with very little hard data, because insights can be generated based on experts describing a situation.
•New scenarios can be added.
•Worst, best and expected values can be determined for different scenarios

There is a raft of decision making games & software on the internet for both adults and children, for both business & personal use. Just search for
“Decision Software” or “Decision Games” etc.

1.Pairwise Comparisons (head-to-head)
In 1927 a psychometrician named L. L. Thrusting,developed The Law of Comparative Judgment. It’s a scientific approach to measuring and comparing options. Psychometrics is the measurement of an individual's
psychological attributes, including the knowledge, skills, and abilities.
It’s called Pairwise Comparisons and is a great tool to help you establish your priorities and make decisions in situations where the options are completely different, or your evaluation criteria are subjective.

You can customize the Pairwise Comparisons Method to prioritize your activities and make decisions, just as Emmanuel prioritized his activities. It’s basically a method wherein you match up all of your actuates/options head-to-head.

The simplest way to do this is with a table in an X-Y axis. List each activity/option that you want to compare in a column on the left hand side. On the Y axis, make a row of these same activities, going left to right.

Compare each activity in turn, goes head-to-head with each other. You decide which of the two options is more important A single point is awarded to the wining activity and a half a point is awarded in case of a tie.
When all comparisons are completed, you can easily rank them in order of importance by number of points they have.

For example you may be an engineer trying to out which type of material to use in the production of a a new product you’re taking to market. The engineer has determined that in order to manufacture the best possible product, he must determine which of his criteria is most important when considering the design of his product. His criteria are:
•Cost Effective

According to the results safety is the most important element in the design of the new product. How it looks is the least important. He can now go about allocating his resources clearly, confident that he will be successful in achieving his goal. Of course, common prevails at all times in the final decisions.

2. Decision Matrix (options vs factors)
Stuart Pugh a design engineer, who taught at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow invented the decision matrix method. It ‘s a technique used to rank the multi-dimensional options of an option set. It’s original use was for making engineering design decisions, but is used to rank all types of options such as investment options, vendor options, product options, even decision options.
The strength of this system is that it allows you to make rational and confident decisions, while taking many different factors such as time,service levels,technology etc. into account.

Basically, a decision matrix is a scoring system for a set of options which can then be ranked according to their individual scores. It is not weighted to allow for a quick selection process.
On the other hand, a weighted decision matrix weights the criteria in order of importance. These scores better reflect the importance to the decision maker of the criteria involved, therefore the more important the criteria the higher the weighting it is given. Each of the options are scored and multiplied by the weighting factor given to each of the criteria.
The advantage of the decision making matrix is that subjective opinions about one alternative versus another can be made more objective. Another advantage of this method is that sensitivity studies can be performed. An example of this might be to see how much your opinion would have to change in order for a lower ranked alternative to out rank a competing alternative.

How To Use The Decision Matrix Tool
Identify your criteria/factors.For example, you’re looking for a new car
with certain criteria/factors such as:
•Electric Power
•Cost 25K or less
•Gas consumption 50 kpg or better


Next,score each option in its’ importance to each of factors/criteria.
 Use a simple scheme from 0-3. A score of 0 means it’s not that important. A score of 3, indicates high priority. You can create your own values here.

Now assign the relative weight of importance that each factor has on your decision. Again use numbers from 0-3, or make your own values. A weight of 0 means that the factor is has little or no influence on your decision and a weight of 5 means that it’s very influential to your decision. If you difficulty in determining the relative weighting or ranking of the criteria, simply use the 


Finally, multiply each of the scores from step 2 above, by the values for the weighted importance of the factor that was calculated in step 3. This gives you the weighted score for each option-factor combination.


Toyota comes in as the hands down winner,but, the Kia might be your final decision, because although it’s almost the same score as the Toyota, it has much better fuel consumption score than the equally priced Ford. So in reality price & fuel consumption were more important to you, than you originally thought.

3.Decision tree
A Decision Tree is an abstraction and simplification of the real problem. It  allows you to visually lay out all of your possible options and asses the risks and rewards associated with the outcome of each option, thereby helping you to form a course of action. There must also be a finite set of outcomes for each option, and one decision criterion can be considered at a time.

 Let’s say you’re making plans for your next vacation, and you’re considering things such as: airline, cost, climate, language, safety, hotels, season, ground transportation,food, meeting local people, etc.
Start by brainstorming a list of all of the variables involved in your decision making problem, then prioritize them.

You’ve decided that ”meeting local people” is the most important option of your vacation, and you want to determine the most effective way, yet economical way to do it. 

 See figure 2F for a possible solution

So you end up deciding to rent a car with a bike carrier for your rented bike. This allows you to travel quickly and safely from city to city where you can explore by bicycle on your own. Furthermore you decide not to hire a tour guide and spend the $280 you would save by not taking a bus tour,(600-55-265=280) on taxi fares. The taxi drivers always know the best places to go...just ask them. Best of all their advice is free. You now benefit from the best of all three options in a most economical manner.