A person out walking at night comes across a man searching down on the floor under a lamppost.
The man on the floor says he lost his keys.
“Did you drop them here?”
“No, I dropped them over there, but the light’s better here.”
Sometimes we can find ourselves working, or searching, or staying in the places where we find it easier rather than the places that are optimal for what is truly important or fulfilling to us.
Hard choices are unavoidable: it is best to make them consciously.
Don’t let convenience be the deciding factor in what to focus on and what to neglect in your life.
Convenience makes things easy, but easiness is rarely what’s most valuable.
The real measure of your life management technique: does it help you ignore the right things.
Make Convenience work for You
Do not underestimate the power of convenience: Increase the convenience of what’s important to you. If writing more is important, leave a notebook and pen on your table. If watching less TV is important, put the remote control far away from the sofa. If drinking more water is important, have a bottle on your desk.
A leader should be interested in developing 2 competencies in the people within their organisation:
Good Decision Making (to take good choices about how to use the resources of the organisation to achieve strategic plans)
Influencing Skills (because if they cannot influence their peers, people will have to involve you every time…)
If your team doesn’t have #1 they are taking poor decisions. If your team doesn’t have #2 they cannot execute without your support (you will be sucked in to every initiative).
In order to take Good Decisions, you need to ask great questions.
Most people ask few questions and rapidly jump to a solution. Great decision makers ask many questions and get many perspectives before they commit to a decision. Here’s a set of great questions…
This set of questions was inspired by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation and by Vistage Issue Processing where we help leaders develop the ability to ask great questions to help leaders think more deeply and see new perspectives, clarify objectives and take disciplined effective action.
The Ultimate Guide to Great Questions for Critical Thinking
Divided into who, what, where, when, why, how…
…benefits from this?
…is this harmful to?
…makes decisions about this?
…is most directly affected?
…have you also heard discuss this?
…would be the best person to consult?
…else has overcome a similar challenge?
…will be the key people in this?
…deserves recognition for this?
…is the impact on you?
…is the impact on those close to you?
…are the strengths/weaknesses?
…is another perspective?
…is another alternative?
…would be a counter-argument?
…is the best/worst case scenario?
…is the most/least important?
…can we do to make a positive change?
…is getting in the way of taking action?
…else would we see this problem showing up in your life?
…else have you overcome this type of challenge?
…are there similar situations?
…is there the most need for this?
…would this be the greatest problem?
…can we get more information?
…do we go for help with this?
…will this idea take us?
…are the areas for improvement?
…is this acceptable/unacceptable?
…would this benefit you?
…would this cause a problem?
…is the best time to take action?
…will we know we’ve succeeded?
…has this played a part in your past?
…can we expect this to change?
…should we ask for help with this?
…is this a problem/challenge?
…is it relevant to your goals?
…is this the best/worst scenario?
…are people influenced by this?
…should people know about this?
…has it been this way for so long?
…is there a need for this today?
…is this similar to _____?
…does this disrupt things?
…do we know the truth about this?
…does this benefit you/us/others?
…does this harm you/us/others?
…do we see this playing out in the future?
…can we help you?
[Edit: this poem was shared by my Dad upon receiving this post]
I Keep Six Honest Serving Men Rudyard Kipling I KEEP six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who. I send them over land and sea, I send them east and west; But after they have worked for me, I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five, For I am busy then, As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea, For they are hungry men. But different folk have different views; I know a person small— She keeps ten million serving-men, Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs, From the second she opens her eyes— One million Hows, two million Wheres, And seven million Whys!
The most relevant for me was number 9, not for the “decide issues quickly” but for “figure out what typically slows down your decision making and find ways to work around it”. I took some time to reflect…
What slows down my own (business) decision making?
…this is a brain dump of thoughts that come to me now…
Fear of being wrong
Fear of a better idea coming up tomorrow when we have already committed to this course
Feeling like I have to figure out all the implementation details now rather than allow them to be decided when they become necessary.
Feeling like I need to have a really good explanation of my decision that will impress others and have them see me as a “decisive visionary leader”
Feeling like I have to be 100% sure
Feeling like I should speak to a few more people and get their inputs first
Worrying that I have messed up similar decisions in the past (particularly people decisions)
Not seeing the costs of delaying the decision (both financial, and that it then hangs on my mind while I wait to actually commit to a decision)
Not being systematic about the approach to taking decisions
Not distinguishing between small decisions and big decisions and having a clearly different process for each
Not trusting myself to figure out how to make it work down the road
Not stopping to clarify exactly why the decision is important and how it relates to my vision and purpose
Here’s the four lessons from the article that I found most valuable and important to me right now. Numbers are from the Inc Article, Bold text is my own addition…
9. Maximize your time.
“The fastest way to maximize your time is to decide issues quickly. If you need to speed up your decision making, figure out what typically slows down your decision making and find ways to work around it. Pass responsibilities down as far as your people are comfortable. This is another way of speeding up your decision making, by giving others power to decide. You’ll often find that this motivates your employees, building their confidence and enthusiasm, and over time they will gradually accept more responsibility. Clarify your company’s vision, so everyone on the team intuitively understands when projects should be prioritized.”
—Jesse Robbins, founder and CEO of Orion Labs, an enterprise voice platform which secured $18.25 million last fall to expand its next-generation of services to the broader speech and voice recognition market, on track to be worth $18.3 billion by 2023
“It’s OK to be vulnerable. In high school and college, I spent a lot of time learning to be mentally strong, which can be a good thing, since resilience will wear down mountains given time. However, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Tell people when you don’t know, and when you’re worried. You’d be amazing how much help you’ll get, and how much of a connection that creates.”
—Mike Tuchen, CEO of Talend, a provider of cloud and big data integration solutions which saw its stock rise nearly 60 percent over the past year
“CEOs need people around them who are going to question their fundamental beliefs. These people should test and push, so CEOs are forced to question the decisions that they’re making and plan for the inevitable ups and downs that building a company will bring. If you surround yourself with coaches, prodders, and different thinkers, you will create a feedback loop that will fundamentally change your view of the world and make you a better leader.”
—Gordon Ritter, founder and general partner of Emergence Capital, an enterprise cloud venture firm which was recently named Venture Capital Firm of the Year by the National Venture Capital Association
“The one thing I wish my younger self knew was how to find a balance between acting smart and expressing achievements without hesitation. Stereotypes of women’s behavior can dominate perceptions, and as a woman in a male-dominated, STEM-related field, I’ve learned how to take a seat at the table and deliver my message so that it’s heard and respected.”
—Chris Mackey, CEO of MackeyRMS, a research management platform for investment professionals that has taken no outside capital/funding, with clients on its platform managing over $1 trillion in assets
I was watching a few Charlie Munger speeches recently – Warren Buffett’s partner in leading Berkshire Hathaway.
Charlie talks a lot about “Inverse Thinking”…
The Inverse Thinking Process
What is Inverse Thinking? Charlie says it is helpful to turn a question on its head. If you want to know what would improve the situation of India, ask what would make India worse? You can apply this to most situations: If you want to know what would improve your life, ask what would make your life worse? If you want to know what would improve schools, ask what would make schools worse?
Charlie does provide his answer to how to make life worse.
Charlie’s Recipe for a Miserable Life
His answer: The perfect path to a miserable failure of a life is combining:
Another of Charlie’s particular questions he asks himself is how to keep from fanatical ideology? He sees that human beings are so open to self-deception that we must (yes even you) all be on the lookout for our own beliefs that have become fanatical.
Charlie’s Recipe to Keep From Fanaticism
Can you state the arguments against your position as well as your opposition? If you can state the arguments against your position as effectively as the opposing camp, then you can allow yourself to feel that you are not being fanatical.
Charlie on the Danger of Perverse Incentives
Be careful about being in situations that motivate unhappy behaviour. Are the incentives in the systems in which you operate motivating behaviours that make you a better person, or a worse person. Be careful if you think your answer is “neutral”…
I remember a question that was asked to Warren Buffett. “What tips would you give to someone who wished to make money?”
He suggested that there were no simple tips, but then finished by saying “the best way to make money is to stop losing money.”
When you begin in improving your decision making, rather than focussing on becoming brilliant… it is better to avoid really dumb decisions.
To be richer, first start by stopping making yourself poor.
Are there still areas where you are trying to be brilliant, but haven’t removed your stupid old habits?
I’m in London tomorrow and Friday. Hope you have a good rest of the week.
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