Understanding decision making

We need two things to learn from our experiences:



Immediate feedback

Yet, many of life’s problems don’t actually offer opportunities to practice over and over again or don’t give immediate feedback.

Because buying your first home, holding your child for the first time, deciding which school or what job to take…may not allow a lot of space for a do-over. The fact is, you won’t really ever know if you did a great job raising your kid (even if your child graduates at the top of her class). There is no immediate feedback.

Yet, learning takes practice which seems to show up in the small and inconsequential.

If you burn dinner, you can try again tomorrow. If you didn’t like the route you took to work, you can take a different one on the way home.

So, here is what we need to understand about decision making:

1) Your opportunity to practice is going to go down.

Without practice…

2) Your chance to receive feedback will go down.

And without practice or instant feedback…

3) Your decision making is going to go down too.

This is why so many of us struggle when the game is on the line. For most of us, we live comfortable lives, free of risks and unknowns. For that, we trade our ability to make crucial decisions when the stakes are high.

My advice? Find a way to raise the stakes. Failure is not as damaging as we think.

People fit into two categories

First, are those that seek pleasure. The majority of people fit in this.

And the second?

Performance. These are your super goal-oriented individuals.

What I’ve noticed though is that people that seek pleasure would do well with a bit more performance. And the opposite is true too.


Pleasure is just so temporary. And really, it isn’t anything without having a really hard goal to achieve.

Death to the business plan

I have many friends that have great business ideas. Yet, many suffer from this idea that you need a fortified business plan in order to begin.

Here’s my advice: Throw away that business plan.

A great business plan doesn’t take months to put together. The best business plans take a couple minutes. And then, you begin.

Business plans are another form of hiding. As the saying goes, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Starting a business is all about improving and inventing. If you are not doing those two things than you are not spending your time in the right areas.

Talking about someday building a business is way sexier than actually making one. It’s hard work spent behind the scene.

How will you measure your life?

The reason why businesses fail is that they invest their time, talent, money and other resources into immediate tangible evidence of achievement.

It turns out, that we do the same thing.

It’s difficult to see on a day-to-day basis if we are raising well-adjusted children. Difficult to see if the relationship you have with your spouse is continuing to grow.

Yet, it’s much easier to point to our careers and see a promotion or to look at the bank account and think we are doing something well if the numbers go up.

It is making us miserable.

We don’t have to measure our life on one axis but rather:

Did I help someone achieve something they never thought they could do?

Did I help someone see the world as it really is?

Do the lessons I teach, are they turned around and taught to other people?

Did I open a door for someone who turned around and opened a door for others?

Money, status, artifacts…they are all easy to measure which makes it so tantalizing to pursue.

HT Clay Christensen. Thank you for all the incredible work you have done…and now comes good sailing.

Write what you don’t know

Here’s the thing, when we write about things we know; we are writing from a place of fear. We are hiding.

And that is pretty boring for anyone to read.

Sure, we are less likely to screw something up. But we are playing it safe.

The alternative is to write about the unknown. The fiction we can dream up or about a topic that is out of our comfort zone.

That’s what’s interesting to the reader. Even if we don’t agree with the writer’s opinion, we at least notice when she takes a stand or picks a side.

Of course, this isn’t just about writing. We are talking about a speech or your master thesis or your corporate proposal.


Derangement syndrome

We imagine the worst and then assign those motives to someone who we are most frustrated with.

When, in fact, no rational person would act the sort of way we imagine.

The problem is we only get one set of lenses to see.

We see things from our perspective, we ignore everyone else’s.

That’s why we have a difficult time explaining irrational behavior really.

We are the only rational actors in the room.


What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say to themselves as they were cutting down the last tree?

I’m not for sure. But at some point, I’m sure someone said, “It’s someone else’s problem.”

Do societies fail by choice then or are they the victim of circumstances?

It’s easy to push blame away. Much more difficult to see things as they really are—especially when they gradually happen. We can’t fix problems unless we can perceive them.

For one, many of us are haven’t been alive long enough to see the changes or perhaps we don’t even know better.

“This is the way things have always been.”

We also tend to rationalize, make things smaller than they actually are to make ourselves feel better.

“Don’t worry, we’ve planted new trees over there.”

Because we can’t live forever, we will act out of our own self-interest. It’s the tragedy of the commons, as they say.

And of course, we are talking about fixed resources. There isn’t an unlimited supply of trees even if they are renewable. We consume more than we create.

There is also short-term thinking, conflicts of interest (hard to change things whenever rely on it for a paycheck), not enough boundaries or regulation, poor decision making, lust for power, status roles, fear, anxiety, short-term thinking…or maybe the problem is so big, we can’t fix it.

Somebody has to fix things when are truly broken. So, when are you going to realize you are somebody? When are you going to stand up and be the difference?

HT Collapse


If the video would have asked upfront, “How many guerillas appear?” then the answer would have been completely obvious.

The world is full of information. Too much for any one of us to process.

We have to pick and choose what we pay attention to and ignore the rest.

That’s why they say that sometimes the answer is right in front of our nose because it actually is.

It makes you wonder what passes us every day. What opportunities or people or ideas simply never happen because we are not paying attention.

Instead of focusing on the outcomes, perhaps we should be more focused on what kind of questions we are asking?

What comes next?

When someone claims to know exactly where it is they’re going, they are probably overconfident in their own powers of prediction and decision making.

Because no one actually knows what happens next, not even the so-called experts.

Time will tell whether the decisions we made caused more good than harm.

Which makes long term decisions so difficult. What guarantee do we have we will be here tomorrow to see the fruit of difficult decisions made today?

Again, no one knows.

Perhaps, the problem is we are always trying to win. As a result, we lose.

But that isn’t how the natural order of things unfold. Because let’s be honest, the world doesn’t care.

There is no winning or losing. Only the way events unfold. How we respond (rather than react) is how we succeed.

Help enough people

The great Zig Ziglar used to say, “You can have anything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want.”

But what if we simply dropped the first part.

And now you have, “Help enough people get what they want.”


Simply, help enough people.

It doesn’t matter if we got what we wanted out of life as long as we helped enough people.