present sight, past sight, viewing decisions
“There are those who say all crimes can be ascribed to one of two motives – love or money – but I don’t believe that. In my experience everything we do is predicated on one of two other things: greed and fear. Oh, sometimes they get mixed up, but mostly you can keep them separated. We feel greed for what we don’t have and fear because of what we might lose. ‘
I tend to believe most people are actually fairly good at making a decision, but, I also believe most people actually suck at how they view the decision itself. If that is true, well, all we have to do is work on how we think and view these better, make it better, and all the good decisions within us will just happen.
But, and this is a big but, effective decision making resides in viewing the decision well. Yeah. I am actually suggesting HOW you view a decision, not the decision difficulty itself, is the most important thing. Yeah. I am suggesting perspective may be the most important aspect of keeping yourself from decision sucking.
Let me explain our typical suckedness <because it is fairly explainable>.
Decisions <small, big, inconsequential, consequential, monumental & insurmountable>.
We, in business, always want things to be really important and really big so that we can showcase our value in the decisions we made within these important and big decisions.
This creates a variety of issues. We make the small decisions look big. This is bad because … well … businesses are rarely driven by any truly big decision but instead a massive quantity of smaller decisions. Most leaders know & understand that. Most middle management kind of knows that but hates admitting it.
We make the truly big decisions look like frickin’ Mount Everest. This is bad because they then take on a rich & royal hue of insurmountability. Middle management does this to pass responsibility on to the shoulders of those who get ‘paid to climb Mt. Everest’ and bad leaders do this to cover their ass <I mean, c’mon, how many people really can climb Mt. Everest?>. All in all this makes decision making tough. Especially the bigger ones that need, and should, be made.
In addition there this this weird thing we do with decisions called past sight. Because almost all decisions take on more importance than their actual value we seek things to create some comfort. 90% of the time we find this comfort in things done in the past. We use past sight to reflect upon ‘big important decisions.’
Let’s be clear. In present sight many of those decisions were just decisions — not insurmountable not monumental nor were they even ‘too big’ and they may not have even been a ‘big important decision’ <with the larger repercussions that past sight is now showing>. They were decisions. In past sight we have sifted thru the chaff and uncovered the wheat. Metaphors aside I would suggest that time is better spent sifting thru the chaff today than using past sight.
But this is about where business people typically suck. Suffice it to say while we mismanage most decisions we certainly misidentify the bigger more difficult decisions to a point where they can often be insurmountable <and therefore no one makes the difficult decision>. There are 5 aspects to how we make decisions harder than they have to be:
- The Consequences of Making a Decision.
In times of significance, that space in time may decide if you follow your instincts or let another factor prevent you from making the right choice. Peer pressure, overwhelming doubt, fear, and all those demons that like to whisper in our ears. You might make the wrong choice. Or the right one. But those little devils return to doubt even your hesitation and contradict themselves by pointing wildly at the other option.
Kids need to learn that sometimes making a decision (or doing nothing) has an effect on the freedom of choice they would have otherwise.
- The Consequences of not making a decision.
It should be one of the deadly sins. Maybe more dangerous than lust, pride, sloth, greed, envy, gluttony, and wrath put all together. (Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit there.) Hesitation is the cause of many regrets and failures, as evidenced through numerous clichés in literature and media.
Because in that moment, before making a decision or taking an action, the consequences of what follows may lead to the remaining sins. And I don’t mean that hesitating before choosing whether or not to eat ice cream will result in accusations of gluttony for the cold dessert. Nothing so drastic as that.
- Learning why you may not have made the right (or best) choice.
Asking yourself if you could have done something differently. Maybe learning that there were other “just as right” choices. this has a nasty habit of not only diminishing our energy against a decision already made but feeds into overthinking, freezing. On the next decision.
- Coming to Terms with Mistakes (or less than the best choices).
Learning that although you might not get what you expect, you learn and find something new. Regrets and fears are worse when it’s about something you didn’t do but, in general, while we talk about mistakes as being earning moments reality tends to simply view them as mistakes. Truth is too many mistakes only encourages less risk taking. We don’t want kids to become deranged risk-takers taking any choice that appeals to them, but rather it is important to make mistakes and use them for critical thinking aspects.
- Relating thinking and decisions to others.
While critical thinking often focuses on personal choice & view, it is good to consider how the outcome of the decision will affect other people. Sure, sure, sure. Everyone says they do, but the reality is more an 80/20 rule – 80% my view & 20% what that view means to others. Let me just say learning the dynamic that exists between individuals, the group, the relationships and repercussions of decisions not just on self but in totality is a constant work-in-progress if you accept that responsibility.
All that said.
I would argue all of those aspects have slipped into everyone’s mindset with regard to what decision they will make and the criteria used to actually make a decision. I would even argue these same things come into play when viewing a trend (because you don’t look at trends just for entertainment, they are used to guide decision making) which most good decision makers try and look at (because you want to see how any one decision fits into a larger arc of context).
Regardless. I tend to believe most people are actually fairly good at making a decision, but I also believe most people actually suck at how they view the decision itself. If that is true, well, all we have to do is work on how we think and view these better, make it better, and all the good decisions within us will just happen. Yeah. I said the exact same thing upfront. I just wanted to emphasize. And i also wanted to point out while easy to type, its incredibly difficult to do.
Decisions are a responsibility. Treat them as if they are.