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HTM 056 – Decide | Evaluate |Act – How To Matter

May 25th, 2016 by Gary Crow

In episode 56 of How To Matter, I explore decision making along with how and why we make the decisions we make. The tip for the episode is somewhat backward from the usual decision making advice. The two articles below include the typical decision advice and serve as the handouts for the episode.

1: There is a little quirk of human nature that is worth a second look. We seek out advice and guidance, we consult with experts, and may even peruse a few volumes in the library, hoping for insight and wisdom. As a result, we assimilate the best, available ideas and thinking about our problem or issue.

Do we then act based on all of that fine knowledge? Well, usually we do; but the little quirk is that sometimes we don’t, even though we know better than we do. As Mary Wortley said, “Sometimes I give myself admirable advice, but I am incapable of taking it.”

It’s definitely human nature, since it’s been around for at least a couple thousand years. Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” That’s why we do what we want to do, despite all that good advice from experts. It’s like Erica Jong noted, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t;” or Charles Varlet de La Grange, Pensées, “When we ask advice we are usually looking for an accomplice.” In the end, the famous Anon. likely has the advice we need, “The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others;” since, as François Duc de La Rochefoucauld pointed out, “It is more easy to be wise for others than for ourselves.”

2: “Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days… What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Make decisions quickly and unambiguously. This does not suggest that your decision making is either impulsive or ill considered. To the contrary, your decisions are based on thorough analysis and comprehension. The key is that the analysis and comprehension are fully informed by experience and supported by intuitive processes that are themselves very rapid and unusually accurate. Frequently, this means that you are unable to provide adequate explanations for decisions when they are made. Such explanations only become available retrospectively, as time is available to reconstruct your intuitive processes at a conscious level.

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