Make Better Decisions in Your Life

Decicive-Book-ReviewI am reading a new book by Chip and Dan Heath called DECISIVE: How To Make Better Choices In Life and Work.

I am half way through and it has opened my eyes to how poorly we are prepared to make decisions. Hell, nobody ever taught me how the decision process works or gave me any tips on how to make better choices. I wish I would have had this book before my first marriage, it would have saved my lots of trouble.

These guys also wrote NY Times Bestsellers Switch and Made To Stick. I have to admit I haven’t read them, but after devouring Decisive I am going to take a close look at those other titles.

A quick snapshot of the four villains of decision making discussed by Chip and Dan are:

  1. Narrow Framing
  2. The Confirmation Bias
  3. Short Term Emotion
  4. Overconfidence

Narrow framing is when we unduly limit the options we consider and the authors talk about transforming the this or that question (should I do this or that) into a this and that option (Is there a way I can do this and that). By replacing the OR with an AND we open up ourselves to a multitude of possibilities.

The confirmation bias is a tricky one and I observe myself doing it all the time. Researchers have found that when people have the opportunity to collect information from the world, they are more likely to select information that supports their preexisting attitudes, beliefs, and actions.

They authors state, “At work and in life we often pretend that we want the truth when we’re really seeking reassurance.” Of course the best way to avoid this is to seek out opposite opinions and to play the devils advocate—inviting criticism into our discussions allows for expanded thinking and expanding thinking leads to your ability to make better decisions in your life.

Short term emotion is self explanatory, the quick fix always feels good but doesn’t necessarily make for good decisions. The authors argue for detachment and space to consider decisions. Pause and rest in the process before you move forward seems like great advice to me.

Overconfidence can also lead us down the wrong path and our lives are fraught with overconfident decisions. A great example of this villain was when the CEO of Quaker acquired the beverage company Snapple for 1.8 billion. He had, with confidence, successfully acquired the home run Gatorade ten years earlier. The CEO rushed into the Snapple decision with much confidence but unfortunately it was sold for 300 million three years later after Quaker realized that Snapple was no Gatorade—ouch.

The authors came up with a catchy acronym to help us better make decisions. They ask us to WRAP these concepts around each decision:

  • Widen Your Options
  • Reality-Test Your Assumptions
  • Attain Distance Before Deciding
  • Prepare to Be Wrong

If you’d like to read the first Chapter for free, we’ve got it for you.

For a deeper look into each of these strategies please get the book.

I love this book—who doesn’t want to learn to make better decisions?

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