Let’s Kick It Off
With the new year I decided to kick it up a notch and tackle the topic of complex decision making and well, wow! Who knew there was so much scientific theory and research out there on decision making? Mind blown! Guess the word complex should have been my first clue. But still, there is a massive amount of theory out there on the art of basic decision making before even adding complex into the equation.
Despite Much Science, Still an Art
I specifically am choosing the word art purposefully. Because I do still believe decision making is ultimately an art even after diving into the massive scientific research on the subject.
This is because although I’m going to be deciphering some basic scientific theories on the matter, I still believe we are never to discount the number one deciding factor when making major decisions which is our own inner guidance, our heart, our intuition – you know the little voice that dwells inside of us. This is especially true when it comes to personal life matters that directly impact our personal goals and life matters.
So we all know by now we can not predict or control the future, and this is what makes decision making a challenge. Control is just an illusion. If we could see the outcome of our decisions in our magic crystal balls, I first off personally think life would be pretty dull and secondly there would be no need for decision making theories or risk analysis. We would all know all of the outcomes with 100% certainty.
The Only Sure Thing Of a Decision is Learning
As a quick disclaimer, there are no risk free decisions in life. There are no guarantees or sure things in life. The only guarantee I know of is you will learn as you go in the decision making process. Part of the excitement of life is not 100% knowing the outcome and going for it anyway. Just ask every casino owner how they make their millions!
Basic Decision Making Components
Ok so let’s get started.
Making a decision has 3 basic components:
1. Linking the value of a decision with the desirability of a consequence.
2. The need to reduce uncertainty. Remember last week’s blog. This goes back to being a living breathing human being again, we fear the unknown and must minimize it in the decision making process.
3. The need to establish preferences for outcomes, including outcomes achieved with different probabilities. So in other words, what is the statistical probability or other likelihood that you are going to get the outcome that you want?
Let’s Simplify With The Following Questions
To simplify this even more when making a basic decision, ask yourself the following questions in the decision making process:
1. Am I asking myself the right question? This has to do with properly framing the decision.
2. Do I understand the problem or issue and do I have all of the information available to me at this moment? Do I know everything I need to know; or that I’m able to know?
3. What can I do right now? What are my options?
4. And most importantly in my opinion, what do I want? Oooh tough one right? Here’s where that inner voice and often times inner courage comes into play. Do you trust it? In my opinion, yes you do. But everyone must decide for themselves.
Let’s Add Some Complexity
So with basic decision making, often times you will have the facts that you need. Maybe you can project your outcome based on historical results or the results of how someone else has done it in the past before you. Information is fairly readily available in some form or fashion for you to put the pieces in place to make an optimal decision, link it with the desired consequence, collect enough data, tweak the decision enough to reduce the uncertainty and then structure in a way that gives you the best odds for success.
An example of a basic decision might be to payoff a loan in a set amount of time. Fairly straightforward decision with readily available information to reduce uncertainty and then structure for a high likelihood of success.
Let’s Go Big!
I did want to lay the groundwork for basic decision making because I think that’s important. But now let’s dive into complex decisions. The gray area.
So complex decisions are just like they sound, complex. They have murky qualities to them that make them difficult to go through the decision making process. Because of this, well they basically freak us the heck out. This is for many reasons which I’ll go over so you can understand them, but honestly I can’t help but think much of it is related to the universal natural instinct for humans to fear the unknown. What is under that murky water? I saw fear of the unknown blinking in bright neon lights written all over when I was researching this subject.
What Makes a Decision Complex?
Creative/Innovative/Unique Decisions…Unchartered Territory
So some qualities that make a decision complex are decisions which are original or unique. These are often creative or innovative endeavors. These can also just be decisions or experiences which you’ve personally never embarked on before. Basically these are any decisions which have limited data available to analyze and use to project the future outcome, which in turn doesn’t allow you to reduce the uncertainty and calculate your odds for success. Thus launching them outside of the normal decision making process, making them complex.
Those Involving Other People
Another attribute that could constitute a complex decision is those involving other people. As Forest Gump or his mama correctly said people “are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” Ok I think he technically said life is like a box of chocolates, but this definitely 100% applies to people too. So I’m applying his and his mama’s wisdom nonetheless, lol.
People have different perspectives, mindsets, goals, etc. Other people can either help or hinder your decision making and your desired outcomes with a quickness. If you have multiple people impacting your decision making variables, they can throw in a major wild card. Therefore making the decision complex.
Action Into The Unknown
The next attribute of a complex decision involves taking action and going into the unknown. So just like the antidote to conquering fear from the last blog and podcast, another attribute of a complex decision is you will probably have to start taking action before you will fully realize the full potential of your options. All your options will not be on the table at the initial time of the decision most likely. As you go forward though, more options will then become available. Sounds very similar to going outside of your comfort zone to expand, doesn’t it?
Really, I Won’t Get Immediate Validation Either?
The final attribute of a complex decision I’m going to cover is that measures of success may not be immediately available. It may be slow to obtain measures or tangible data that you can see and touch to validate these types of decisions. As you can imagine, this can make an already complex decision feel even more complex!
The Lessons I’ve Learned
So let me break down the lessons as I see them with complex decisions.
Follow Your Inner Guidance
First, follow your inner guidance because you will often not have the facts, charts, and historic data to project your results. This is what makes this complex so you will need to trust your inner voice along with your own skill set, value and abilities.
It Takes Action, Faith, Time and Perseverance
Second, it will take action, time, faith and perseverance to ultimately see your desired results regarding complex decisions. But they will be worth it. Think how long it took the Wright brothers to see the first successful airplane model take flight. They had a complex decision they were dealing with by the absolute true definition.
Surround Yourself With Quality People You Can 100% Trust
Third lesson is people by nature can make decisions complex and can throw a wrench in your desired outcomes. This is why it’s especially important to have good people you can trust in your corner.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You!
And finally, don’t ever let fear stop you from making a decision that you want to go for. If Henry Ford let fear stop him, we’d still be riding horses to work everyday. If the Wright brothers let fear stop them, think of all the beautiful, majestic places we’d never be able to see.
There Are No Bad Decisions, Just Learning Opportunities to Do It Better Next Time
Sometimes people look back at decisions and wish they would do them different. A good test of a decision is whether you would have made the same decision again if you had the same information in the same circumstance. Just because you haven’t gotten the desired outcome yet doesn’t mean it was a bad decision. It’s never too late to go for your dreams in life! The only bad decision is when you give up on yourself.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”, this is Henry Ford’s own words of wisdom to us my friends.
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