Hello Leader,

Personal mastery is one of the objects of life's journey. You face challenges and are given opportunities and you learn how you respond, and how to make decisions. We've all made smart and also not so smart decisions. Most importantly is that today you are smarter than you were last year and that you are continuing to evolve in your mastery.

Decision making should be taught early in life as a fundamental skill. But unless you've had an enlightened mentor it's unlikely you practiced the knowhow to avoid the blind spots of decision making. I know I didn't and I had to learn the hard way. In this KEY you will discover Part Two in the series of Decision Blind Spots.

Please print out and keep this KEY to improve decision making and to create a conversation with your family and with your team about the decision blind spots. Coach and help them develop the mastery of decision making.


Aviv Shahar

The Decision-Making Blind Spots - Part II

In Part I of the Decision-Making Blind Spots we focused on the first five mistakes people make when approaching decision making. We proposed that you internalize these ideas by mentoring and introducing these critical considerations to your son or daughter or a young person you are mentoring to help create a legacy of wiser decisions in yourself.

Here are the first five blind spots and mistakes we shared with you.

1. The Bias Blindness
If you are a human you have biases and preferences. The point is to become aware and get to know your biases. If you don't, they control you and prevent you from seeing the full picture and from making optimal decisions.

2. The Reaction Blindness
Reacting is not choosing. You have the capacity to consider options and to choose how to respond. "Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you."

3. The "Why" Blindness
Purpose outlines direction and defines criteria against which all decisions can be measured. Being unclear on your overarching purpose -- your "Why" -- can leave you rudderless and without a compass.

4. The Objectives blindness
Clarify your desired outcome and what success looks like. A decision is a choice among alternatives. If you are not clear about the "What" (objective) it's difficult to choose among the options.

5. The Musts/Wants Blindness
Musts are deal breakers. Wants are nice to have. Beware of confusing "wants" for "musts." In matters of importance and in large purchasing decisions like buying a home, define first the musts and then order the wants by weight of importance.

Now to the next five Decision Making Blind Spots:

6. The Options Blindness
Diligence is an expression of care and is self-rewarding. Develop fortitude and diligence in exploring and understanding options. Choosing the option that presents itself first or is the most obvious is a blindness born out of laziness. Similarly, blindness to options can come from the tendency to rely too heavily or anchor the decision on only one element or piece of information. Practice asking the following two questions: What options are available for us? And then, What else? Write out the options so you can look at them and evaluate the benefits and downsides of each.

7. Groupthink gravity
Humans are social by nature. At some level, we all want to belong and to please and make others happy. The risk is in losing your sense of impartiality and direction under group pressure. By letting groupthink gravity influence and shape your judgment, you tend to lose the sense of self and the ability to make decisions in your own best self-interest. On the other hand, by becoming aware of and understanding the gravitational pull of the group, you can choose whether or not to participate based on your values and what's optimal for you.

8. Confusing problem solving for decision making
A decision is a choice between options. A problem is an aberration from expectation for which the cause is unknown and which produces concern. For it to be a problem, all three criteria must be present. No deviation from expectation - no problem. No concern about an apparent aberration - no problem. If the cause is known, it is no longer a problem, but a decision about alternative ways to address the cause. You solve a problem by discovering the cause and addressing it. If you cannot discover the cause you need to address the effects it creates. Decision making only becomes part of the process when you get to the crossroad of alternative options.

Water dripping from the ceiling is indeed a deviation from expectation, it produces concern (you don't want the ceiling and the carpet to get damaged and the house to get flooded), and the cause is unknown. Solving the problem is the process of searching for the cause - is it a pipe that burst in the wall or ceiling? Is the roof leaking although you just replaced it a year ago? Once you discover the reason, you can select the appropriate solution: replace the pipe, reseal the roof or replace the whole roof if needed. This is where decision making comes into the picture.

9. The Wishful Blindness
Ignoring or selectively embracing evidence according to what you find pleasing or wish the case to be carries risk. The danger is in preferring the validation of your point of view over looking at the facts. The art of decision making begins with looking at the data. In most situations you do not have complete information, but complete information is rarely needed. All you need is enough information to make a decision. The trap is ignoring points of views and data that conflict with your wishes.

10. The Decision Avoidance Trap
Decision making is not about perfection. It is about choosing a course of action and moving forward. Many people avoid making decisions. They prefer to wait for a perfect option to appear before they make a move. Some complicate the choice at hand unnecessarily as a delaying strategy. They fail to address the decision at the appropriate level and combine it inside another decision. Only few decisions are big-picture directional choices. With other decisions you can reduce the ambiguity and complexity to the granularity of specifics. By dealing with each element separately in the order you choose, decision making becomes simpler. Avoiding decision is a form of decision that can lead to undesired outcomes.

Now it's your turn. Turn the Key. Become the decision making coach of yourself and others. Help your family and your team practice the art of decision making. Encourage them to practice these insights and build decision-making mastery and the confidence and versatility it brings. Create a future that empowers and energizes you with new possibilities.

© Aviv Shahar