The Secret to Successful Decision Making


Remember in the school playground when we used to choose who batted first? You’d take a bat, and the captains would start at the bottom of the bat, grabbing it – first one captain, then the next right above the grip of captain #1 – all the way up until there was no more room left on the bat. The team of the hand at the top of the bat batted first.

Maybe this is a great way to make a trivial decision, but is it the best way to make a life altering one – you know, like “Should I marry Bobbie or should I continue on my career path towards becoming a marine biologist?” or “Wouldn’t that skull tattoo look great on my left shoulder blade?”

Maybe it is a great decision making tool. “Bat-hands” relies a great deal on randomness. Randomness (or synchronicity) is a form of intuition – the source, I believe, of all good decision making.

I remember having a heated debate with one of my managers while I was with Lexmark. We were discussing whether good decision making was based solely on the facts, or does emotion come into it at all. My claim was that EVERY decision has an element of emotion to it, and regardless of how much time you spend in gathering all the facts, it always boils down to the decision you feel best about is the one that is made (and is ultimately the one that is the most successful.)

My view has changed a bit since then. I now believe the power behind a good decision rests in the source of the “feeling good”. What do I mean? Here are some reasons why a decision might “feel good”:

  • You’ll avoid a disaster you don’t want to face
  • You’ll acquire fame or fortune because of the anticipated outcome
  • You’ll see a competitor go down the drain if the strategy works

This “feeling good” really isn’t a good feeling at all. All of these feelings have at their root the fear or fleeing of pain, or the promise of pleasure. All are future based and are in anticipation of the desired results.

The only true “good” feeling you can rely on is where you use both halves of your brain in the present moment: you look at the facts without judgment and as they exist in the present moment. Next, based on the information that is before you and with your mind fixed firmly on your vision or goal, you choose a course based on your intuition – that gut feeling – that says “This decision is the one that will head me in the direction of my chosen outcome.”

Any other method has you making a decision based on your own severely limited conscious mind. By allowing “intuition”, you tap into the great reservoir of the unconscious and allow thoughts and knowledge that otherwise would have been hidden to bubble to the surface.

Therefore, to make a good decision:

  1. Gather all the facts you can.
  2. Make sure your facts are accurate and are not based on judgment or opinion.
  3. Place all the facts in front of you.
  4. List all possible decisions you could make by examining the facts in present time.
  5. Take a deep breath and list again – let the part of your mind that doesn’t think provide you with a solution you wouldn’t have thought of.
  6. Go inside and “feel” each alternative. Does it have fear or pride attached to it at all? If so, throw it out.
  7. Go with the choice that brings you the most peace and harms the least.

Batter up!

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