Decisions: Going beyond instinct, past experience and good fortune
Decisions shape our lives, both professional and personal. They have a ripple effect, altering the wider landscape, developing consequences (good or otherwise) in other places and for other people.
How many important decisions have you already had to make? In hindsight, how might you have approached them differently, how many now feel rushed or instinctive?
We often tend to stick with a decision-making formula that we know, that feels familiar. Other times, we simply (and subconsciously) use instinct. We may even go as far as taking the grand step of populating a Pro’s and Con’s list. There’s the question of consequences to consider too – the lower the consequence, the less energy we naturally apply to the decision. Yet some are life-altering…and lasting.
What shapes our decisions?
- Frames of reference – experiences and interventions from our past: upbringing, education, religion, politics, all forms of media, networks and peer groups, positive and negative emotional experiences
- Biases – being tired, in a hurry, prioritising other things, distracted, group think, peer pressure
- Information volume/quality – too much, too little, or wrong information, relying on assumptions, looking and listening out for what we want to hear
- Safety – looking for the decision that feels easier, less exposing, less risky, quicker, more agreeable to others, feels good
- Instinct – referring to the subconscious mind, from brain to gut, and forming decisions on what ‘feels’ right
Imagine we are faced with a current, potentially game-changing scenario. What if we were to apply a questionably effective technique, let’s say instinct, generally reserved for making inconsequential decisions. It’s risky for sure and it’s leaving a lot to chance. The sunk opportunity costs become the consequence that keeps on giving.
So, how can we work on making our decisions more consistent and of a higher quality? Try your hand at some organised common sense!
- Create discipline by focussing on Purpose – what do you actually want to achieve? Why? What thoughts and actions are getting in your way?
- Make friends with our old philosophical pal, Aristotle and engage in some peripatetic thinking – take your ideas for a walk and see how they sound to you, and others
- Inversion decision-making – think through problems in reverse, ask the opposite question, see it from a different perspective, turn your thinking upside down, look for how it might fail
- Second-order decision-making – go beyond obvious or intended consequences and unpick the implications – and then what? What about 10 minutes from now? 10 months from now? 10 years from now? How might the ecosystem around you respond to this?
- The map is not the territory (coined by Alfred Korzybski and later incorporated into the pre-suppositions of NLP) – the map of reality is not reality itself, it is the way we choose to interpret and perceive it (and everyone’s ‘map’ is different) – what perceptions and biased assumptions are you using to determine your approach?
- The Munger Two Step (from a Lesson on Elementary Worldly Wisdom, Charlie Munger) – a simple and easy approach to decision making that prevents us from being manipulated
- Understand the forces at play – what do you know, what do you not know?
- Understand how your subconscious might be leading you astray – what psychological factors and biases are you using as a filter? – Over-confidence? Shallow knowledge? A blinder of a decision from the past?
Don’t be like the golfer who despairs at their game, doesn’t take lessons, then expects a different outcome. Get creative with decision-making and go to work on crafting epic outcomes!
Welcome to the ICC Coaching Experience, come on in!
With inspiration from, and thanks to: