And Changing It

Not to decide is to decide. Harvey Cox

Making decisions is one thing in life that cannot be avoided — as Harvey Cox pointed out. And I believe it is one of the most important skills one can have. I spent my early years unsuccessfully promoting that it be part of the curriculum of public education. Learning to drive is often taught but not learning to decide. Today adult workshops are offered on decision making skills but I don’t believe it is taught in many schools, if any.

Freedom of choice of course is important. But the ability to choose is also important. Following are three important questions to ask about my ability to decide, not what to decide. I offer my answers and encourage you to think about your answers.

What is a good decision?

People often judge a decision by its ultimate outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made, given what was known at that time.

This is one of the many belief biases called, “outcome bias”, that cause decision making errors. This is an error because many outcomes are beyond the control of the decider. A decision should be evaluated at the time it is made and how it is made, not how it turns out. Knowing this is part of being a good decision maker.

Am I biased?

Yes I am, and so are you. Over 75 cognitive belief biases have been identified.

Cognitive biases impair our ability to objectively evaluate information, form sound judgment, and make effective decisions. Confirmation Bias, Perceptual Bias, Uncertainty Bias, Self-Serving Bias, Status Quo Bias, are a few “popular” ones. I am sure at times I am guilty of these; maybe you are too. Being aware of these possibilities is part of being a good decision maker.

Is my mind open?

A mind that is receptive to new and different ideas, thinks broadly and doesn’t resist change is an open mind. Open-mindedness is the key to positive uncertainty, which is my decision philosophy. Change happens, different ideas exist, new ideas emerge, and because everything is interconnected, we need an open and inclusive mind. What we see and what we know isn’t all there is. Therefore, narrow-mindedness and close-mindedness isn’t a good decision strategy.

Do you have different questions and/or different answers?


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2 Responses to MAKING UP MY MIND

  1. Gene Unger says:

    Open mindedness is good. I’m positive . Are you certain?

    Sent from my iPad


  2. says:

    H B, You article makes me think of Jeb Bush’s reply when asked if he would have made the same decision as George W about the Iraq war. He said given the information at that time he would have, but would not with given information of this time. I thought that showed the same mind as W even though he back tracked saying he would judge differently now. But it does help guilt feelings about bad past decisions when you realize you based that decision on the situation at that time. But we still get judged as if we would make that same decision given different information. Interesting.

    When will be the Wisdom meetings in July. We will be there by the 4th and probably would need to come to the first of the month meeting. There is a family reunion of our Saratoga family on the 18th of July so probably we wouldn’t be driving over your way twice in a week. And we want to plan a time with you.


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