PLawrence Ellison, a professor of psychology, specializes in how to make decisions, but in the early days of his career it was all theoretical. Then one day he took a call from “a lot of seniors” who described the worrying trend: police chiefs were showing themselves incapable of making important choices, in serious situations. “Can you do something to help?” He asked.
Was there Eliasson – a straightforward, nonsense person – began translating what he knew from textbooks into practical advice. “The educational work of decision-making was focused on the study of how to build in theoretical settings,” he says. “But I felt we needed to move on to real-time, life-on-line situations: tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, where there were possibilities, someone was presented with a situation where almost every choice seemed serious. I knew that. I have something to offer that makes a difference. “
Now he and his colleague Neil Sutland, with whom he runs training courses for military, law enforcement and political leaders around the world, have written a book that translates the wisdom he still respects, making it relevant to a wider audience. “The people we work with make confrontational decisions on a regular basis,” says Allison. “In normal life, maybe 1% of the decisions we make are really life-changing. It’s like committing to your partner; it’s going to be a career change; is it the right time to have a baby? The problem is that a lot of people are afraid of these decisions. They believe they are bad at making important choices. You hear them say, ‘Someone tell me what to do.’
In fact, the gem at the heart of the book is that there is always a decision that is uniquely right for you – so it is usually best to make your own decisions. It’s a question of tapping into your personal values and focusing on the ultimate goal, not the process. “The biggest mistake people make when making decisions is to ignore the consequences,” says Eliasson. Want to do it? ‘”Shortland agrees:” People fail to focus on what is important to them. They see that the choice is attractive in a sense, but they do not think about what to give up to get it.
For Alison, who teaches at Liverpool University, and Sortland, based at the University of Massachusetts, acknowledging the place of regret is the key to effective decision making. Fear of regretting later decisions paralyzes some people – and that’s why they believe that the biggest danger surrounding decisions is not doing wrong, it doesn’t do anything. “In many ways we want to play safe, to maintain the status quo,” says Allison. “These big life decisions are unusual events in our lives. We don’t have much to compare them to, so we lack expertise – and the easiest thing is to be risk-averse and stick to what we’ve got.” He calls it “decision inertia” and says it is common in many knife-wielding situations – mounting rescue operations, for example, or choosing when to launch a military strike – where there is no right outcome, only “bad” or “bad”. . The same is true of some “normal life” decisions – and in those cases, what is needed is at least a bad feeling – but it is always going to be an unexpected decision.
So, what is the secret of being able to make the most difficult decisions? Allison and Sutherland have come up with a formula called “Star” with a guiding acronym. S is about situational awareness, working on what is happening, why it happened and what you think is going to happen now. In their book, they tell the story of Jenny, who discovers her relationship with her 11-year-old husband, Rob’s co-worker. The discovery clearly allowed Jenny to make a big decision about whether to stay with Rob or leave. But first, she had to work out what was going on in her marriage and other relationships. Rob seemed to have a clear path to take, but in the end, Jenny stayed. When she unpacked the situation, she could see what went wrong in her marriage, but more importantly, she thought it was possible to repair the damage. When you’re against it, says Shortland, your mind is like a glass filled with water. You need more than luck to succeed in affiliate business. You need to find some space, some time, before you can figure out what’s going on.
But time – abbreviated T – is also very important here. Because before you decide you need to calculate how much time is available to make it, and if there is no time limit, and it is open (should I look for a new job? Do I want to move to another country??), You It is important to note that this is not a bad thing at all. You don’t really get it all the time, Alison and Sutland warn: Life is short, and sometimes if you choose to hang out instead, you’re effectively making choices anyway.
A in-star is for customization. Good decision-makers are open-minded and courageous in their headspace, and should not be intimidated by exploring new possibilities. Shortland says, “Take the example of a person who gets a call from anywhere, offer them a new job. “The danger in this case is that you will be flattered to take it, think that you do not have to hurry for it, it is in your lap, so why not take it? What you should do, however, is to test: Instead, test yourself with arguments as to how it is not right. We are wired to find authentication (hello, social media), he explains. But if you convince yourself that something is right and then it is wrong, you will pay the price. .
In the end, R is for revision, because once you make a decision, it doesn’t mean you can’t revisit it. “The star model is based on the tendency of people to struggle around making decisions,” says Shortland. “We want to share weaknesses, to describe the dangers of how your brain wants to go, so you can override it if it’s in your interest. We’re trying to see the decision-making process as a biological process, not an end in itself. We have a holistic approach. , And it depends on you knowing the most important thing. “
Ellison and Sutland agree that some personality types find it easier to make decisions than others: they are more satisfied with the so-called maximists (who strive for perfection), who will settle for something “good enough.” The problem for maximizers is that waiting for everything to line up can mean losing opportunities, and at the same time, real life is rare if ever perfect. The key to good decision making is the knowledge that in plumbing for an option, you have to give up other possibilities. The cooler you can be about letting them go, the better your decision-making ability will be.
So how good are Alison and Sutland to make their own decisions? Sutherland says he had just been offered a new job and had to decide whether to go for it or not. “It was a challenge, because I had to reflect deeply on what I really wanted,” he says. “And after writing the whole book about it, it took me five more days to make my choice: self-awareness and honesty is what it is and it takes time.” Eliasson says he still has to make decisions, and some are definitely more difficult than others. “My stumbling block sometimes responds very quickly – whether it is necessary to act at the exact moment or not, or if I can wait a while I do not notice my own advice to act.”
Meanwhile, they are considering the use of artificial intelligence. “AI can play chess, it can guide fighter jets, it can detect patterns and warn us about things,” says Shortland. “But can it tell us what decisions to make now? Can AI handle another epidemic? We’re starting to see advantages and disadvantages. Like police chiefs, the real world has called: it’s a hot topic right now, and we’re at the forefront of it.”
Verdict: Vermilion has published How to Make Choices by Lawrence Ellison and Neil Shortland for 14.99. Buy a copy from guardianbookshop.com for .0 13.04