True story….a 4am decision.
I am standing at a roulette table in Las Vegas as the numbers spin round and round while a little white ball whizzes round, bounces and is eventually to settle on the winning number.
Moments before the ball selects the winner, I put $10 on number 11 to win.
The little ball bounces, bounces, and lands on 11. Yeah baby!
Just like that, I won $370 on a $10 bet.
I made a good decision.
But did I make the decision well?
If your success depends on making good decisions there is something you need to know.
The goal of “making good decisions” is often where trouble starts.
When we say we made a good decision, we often mean that the outcome of our choice/decision was a good one. Positive result=Good decision.
The first problem with targeting “making a good decision”, is that a good decision is an opinion based upon an outcome. We cant actually make good decisions from the point in time when the decision is before us.
We can however make decisions well….and here’s the trick of it.
Making decisions well is what we, as knowledge workers must do in order to better our odds at making a good decision.
One can make a good decision based purely upon chance. Just like I did in Las Vegas.
Making decisions well involves procedure, aligns with intentional, considered outcomes and serves to eliminate chance.
When I am focused on success, I try to eliminate chance. I focus on making decisions well.
The second issue with saying we want to “make a good decision” is that this approach more often than not results in an increased sense of uncertainty around the decision, overwhelm when faced with choice and erosion of confidence when deadlines hit or as time passes.
Whereas, when the goal is making the decision well, our focus shifts to decreasing uncertainty, reducing overwhelm as we systematically process options and our confidence in the decisions we make increases.
So how can you make decisions well?
Five things to consider:
(1) Understand your risk profile. Be real about your personal biases around what you deem to be risky or not a risk at all. Remember we all have different profiles and risk tolerances affected by our experience and circumstance. I’ve seen decision making come off of the rails because biases around risk have not been observed.
(2) Avoid analysis paralysis. Set reasonable deadlines and draw rational lines in the sand….how deep into detail do you truly need to dig? In my experience analysis paralysis is usually a sign that you don’t want to make the decision because it is hard and the outcome might not be desirable for all ….so you are searching for ways to support your position. Not a great example of making a decision well when you’ve already pre-determined the way you will go.
(3) Understand the outcome you want to achieve and how it relates to your longer-term plans. Never make a decision just to ‘get it over with’, make a decision to reach a desired outcome. When we focus on ‘making good decisions’ we are focused on the short term and can easily stray from our longer term dreams. Keep the end in mind.
(4) Understand why you want that outcome. Disaster strikes when we set goals we have not deeply considered. Ever felt like you’ve wound up somewhere and can’t figure out how or why you wanted that thing in the first place? I have and I get it, but it can be overcome with some deep digging, consideration and thoughtful intention setting.
(5) Get clear. Pause or even stop if you have to. Consider the options and the decision using a process. Create a clear compass for yourself so that you can quickly identify options that align with who you are, what you want and where you are headed. (Sometimes opportunity knocks but once, you need to be ready to say yes to the right opportunity for you and more importantly, no to the things that will not move you farther and faster toward your goals)
If your mind is what makes you money, consider how you use that tool to succeed.
Do you ever get caught trying to make good decisions when you should be focused on making decisions well?
I’ve made the same mistake myself…focusing on making good decisions….I’ll see you in the comments below….
Tell me what you think. Do you ever get caught trying to make good decisions when you should be focused on making decisions well?