Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Aha! And the Heath Brothers


Information comes to me when I need it. Ever since I’ve become aware of this rule of life I’ve been amazed that when I am stuck for an answer or consciously seeking one the information I need finds me when I need it. All I have to do is keep my eyes, ears and mind open.

The same rule works for you if you’ll just be open to it. Ask life a question and then simply step back and you’ll see potential answers flowing to you. They may not be exactly the answer you hoped for but they are answers—often painfully honest ones—nonetheless.

I’m in the middle of making a big decision so it was no surprise to me that I happened on Decisive, the new book by the Heath brothers, yesterday on a trip to Barnes and Noble.

You’ve run into these guys before in this blog. Chip (professor at Stanford University) and Dan (senior fellow at Duke University) wrote Made to Stick, about marketing; and Switch, about how to make change happen.

They confirm that making decisions can be easy or hard. Some decisions make themselves while others lead to agonizing procrastination. There are also those decisions that never seem to get made.

In the Heath’s wonderfully readable style Decisive does a good job of spotlighting four biases (our inclinations to think a certain way or make a certain judgment) that keep us from making more effective decisions. Today, and for the rest of the week, I’ll offer some of their thoughts and provide you with the ways they suggest we counteract the biases.

The first bias is narrow framing. Too often, we see life in terms of either/or instead of this and that. An example would be, “Should I quit my job to do what I’ve always wanted?” (either/or, stay/go) instead of, “How do I lead a more fulfilling life?” (this and that, maybe it’s a variety of things in life that combine to make you feel less fulfilled).

The tactic used to counteract narrow framing is to widen your options. How can you expand the choices you have? When we widen our options we often have “Aha! I hadn’t thought of that!” moments.

What’s a big decision you’re trying to make? Are you narrow framing it into an either/or choice? Can you widen your options and find better, or at least more, solutions?

If you’re saying to yourself, “My problem is different,” you may be making an assumption…and we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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