BOTM: Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

“Success emerges from the quality of the decisions we make and the quantity of luck we receive. We can't control luck. But we can control the way we make choices.”

I picked up this book because I believed I was making incorrect, irrational and small decisions that weren’t helping me progress into the future I want for myself. This book was a highly recommended one in Tribe of Mentors. It helped to label the topic or “reason” books were recommended in ToM when realization came that I was making poor decisions, I could refer to this list quickly and see which books would help with decision making.

While I can’t say that all of my decisions will be perfect in the future, the decisions I make will now face an eye of scrutiny and reflection to ensure I’m avoiding the “4 Evils of Decision Making”. These 4 are: Narrow Framing, Confirmation Bias, Short Term Emotion, and Over Confidence.

Narrow Framing can be described as limiting yourself to a small number of options when realistically there are much more. Example: “Should I quit my job or stay?” Limiting yourself to these two options isn’t addressing the reason you are wanting to leave your job, is it pay, benefits, remote work, coworkers, etc? If it’s your coworkers you don’t like working with, switching jobs won’t guarantee great coworkers. If it’s poor pay, have you tried talking to your manager about a raise or the path to one? These are just a couple examples of mistakes we can make for narrow framing ourselves into poor decisions.

Confirmation Bias is a doozie. This one might be the toughest because it looks so appealing and it’s often backed by facts. But ultimately it only supports your own thought process without considering outside factors or a Devils Advocate. This is best avoided by asking for outside unbiased assessments.

Short Term Emotion is self explanatory. It could be the excitement of an opportunity or decision that causes you to act quickly without thinking. You can see these tactics used by sales people to try and get you to buy something. The reverse is also true when anger or frustration can cause you to make irrational decisions. To get around this one, we need to remove ourselves from the situation, take a breath and focus on what we want the outcome of our decision to be and how does it tie into our goals.

Over Confidence is another evil that says it all. This one I went back and fourth with because yes, it is an evil but how do we overcome it? The book says to have backup plans and avoid moonshots when I think having a backup plan is planning for failure while not going all in on Plan A. You should always aim for the moon. Just be mindful of your confidence and realistic with your goals especially if there are other parties involved.

One of my favorite sections is when the Heath brothers dive into Opportunity Cost. I constantly think about this one, this is the cost of INACTION. Most people will think of the risk of doing something but not about the opposite. Example: “Keep putting off that international traveling you’ve always wanted to do.” What is that cost of inaction? Getting too old to enjoy it? Constantly putting work before yourself, grinding on your soul? Think about what you could be missing out on as well as the risks associated!

Finally assuming positive intent! This might be my next favorite part as I am a positive person and always assume the best intent in people. At times I’ll see people get so frustrated or upset by the smallest actions others make without any regard for what the other person is actually trying to convey. Almost like we are all walking with a chip on our shoulder. Relax people! No one is out to get you or bring you down, because you know what? No one cares. Everyone is thinking about themselves. It’s natural, it’s okay. Assume people have good intentions when correcting a mistake, giving you an evaluation, or whatever the case may be. I constantly hear how someone was “flexed” on in a meeting or muttering under their breath about how so and so doesn’t get it. Talk to the other person. Have a conversation. If you find out the other person is REALLY trying to bring you down. Who gives a damn? You always have the ability to change your situation, so change it instead of complaining about it.

I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position, anyone wanting to reflect on their decision making process, or anyone that finds themselves constantly getting worked up or aggravated at work.

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