Decision making – easier if you ask the right questions

How many of us have come across good, if not brilliant, people. But ask them to make a decision, and you know that you have time to read “War and Peace”, twice, before a definitive answer comes back.

Why? What holds them back? In my student days, a flatmate at the time was notorious for gathering bundles of information, but frequently delayed carrying out final steps. I have several clients today with excellent businesses, but they accept that they waste large amounts of time on relatively insignificant subjects. How many of us have observed senior managers efficiently receive company-wide reports, but then are incapable of following up with operative instructions.

Fear of making a wrong decision? Scared of losing power once a decision is made? Down right inability? There are several factors that come in to play.

Looking back at myself, I am able to admit that I would make decisions based on wrong perceptives. I can track how throughout my life how I would formulate an action, based on what people would think of me. I did not refer to what was good for me.

Dan Ariely presents the situation in terms of preferences. Many of us do not create for ourselves correct options. We tend to accept how others want to condition us, Unwittingly, we go along with the idea, and the result is thus often less than positive.

Matt Weinstein is one of Bernie Madoff’s many victims. What helped Matt adjust to his severe finacial loss was a small yet illuminating piece of stoicism. Recalling the Greek philosopher of 2,000 years, Epictetus, Matt observed: “People are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of them”.

We all get bogged down. We allow others to confuse our thought processes. The issue is whether you are strong enough to overcome and remove irrelevant externalities. We need to remember that we can always choose how to respond to situations. How we decide is up to us. Simple…isn’t it?

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2 Comments on “Decision making – easier if you ask the right questions”


  1. Looking at your post, I can add two personal angles:

    o I belong to the group who can tend to postpone decisions, myself. The reason behind this has usually been a combination of a wish to make the best possible decision (not merely a sufficiently good decision) and an joy in research, in gaining knowledge, in developing my understanding. Ultimately, obviously, a perfect decision that takes too long can be worse than an on-time decision which is merely good; however, the temptation to go just one step further is always there.

    o In my experience of others, very many of them make decisions mostly to please others, be it directly or indirectly. A good example is making a poor choice based on the fact that this choice will please an ignorant superior.

  2. Michael Horesh Says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    And one of my problems was that I used to take ages to make a decision. One reason was because I felt it made more me look important.
    The truth was that I was delaying myself from getting on with more important issues, which I may have been afarid to tackle.
    As I wrote, the best thing to do is gain a new persepctive, not based on irrelevancies but on what is good for yourself.


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