Heads or tails? Three keys to better decision-making

Tossing Euro coin, heads or tails you decideHow good a decision-maker are you? Every day, you make decisions that impact your quality of life, your well-being, your effectiveness, your relationships, and more.

What influences our decision making approach? Some humans make decisions based on logic and analysis (Carl Jung’s “thinking” preference of personality) while others make decisions based on feelings and the impact on significant others (Jung’s “feeling” preference).

Humans vary in the pace of their decisions. Some are very fast – they “pull the trigger” on decisions quickly – while others make decisions “at a snail’s pace.” Some humans prefer to engage in discussion with others before coming to a decision while others prefer making decisions independently.

Circumstances impact our decision-making approach. We might take more time and engage others more if we’re making a decision when things are going well. Under pressure, we may change our decision-making approach entirely.


Let me share a decision I made awhile back. In college in the early ’70’s, my car was my Mom’s old station wagon. It was not a cool car by any stretch of the imagination. It was reliable, steady, and boring. When the head gasket blew, requiring expensive repairs, I made a decision: I’m going to sell it and buy a sports car.

I made a feeling-based decision, because the facts should have caused me to walk away from that sports car. It was older than my station wagon. The side windows didn’t roll up because the mechanisms were broken. The heater didn’t work. The driver’s seat had been replaced by a much taller seat that put my head at eye level of the top of the windshield – I had to duck to see out the front.

I ignored all of those realities. I loved the way that car looked, the way the engine sounded, and the way it handled. So, I bought it.

It was not a good decision. It cost me time and money to make it safe and reliable. I was glad to get rid of it in my senior year.

I’ve made a number of good – and bad – decisions over the years. I’ve learned that leaving decisions to chance does not increase the effectiveness of those decisions.

To make better decisions, consider three ideas: benefit, values, and impact.

Benefit – Who will benefit? If you win and others lose, that won’t increase trust, respect, and cooperation in your workplace, family, or community. Find solutions that help everyone move forward – towards contribution and results, civility and sanity, and cooperation.

Values – Is the decision aligned with your values? By formalizing your servant purpose (who you serve on this planet and to what end) and your values (the principles you live by), you can assess your decisions based on those values. If a decision requires you to go against your commitments or to violate your integrity, that’s not a decision you should embrace.

Impact – Conduct an “after action review.” How did your decision impact those on your team or family or community? Was it fair to all those impacted by the decision? Engage all those impacted to learn their perceptions. Refine future decisions based on what you learn – to ensure only positive impact.

Would these three ideas improve the quality of your decisions? How do you ensure that your decisions are fair, beneficial, aligned with your values, and generate positive impact? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © fotofabrika – Adobe Stock. All rights reserved.

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