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  • A good life is the fruit of a succession of good decisions, especially around love and work.

  • However, we seldom accord the business of decision-making the kind of careful attention it requires.

  • When faced with a large decision, we lack rituals and procedures.

  • We typically procrastinate, lean on the nearest person, or rush headlong into an unexamined solution.

  • Fortunately, decision-making is a skill and, like any other, it can be taught.

  • The chief enemy of good decisions is a lack of sufficient perspectives on a problem.

  • We should systematically think through any issue from five distinct angles:

  • Through the eyes of, variously, our Enemy, our Gut, Death, Caution and Courage.

  • As we try out, juggle with and then synthesize these oblique perspectives,

  • we will feel our sense of possibility expand

  • and a tolerable way forward gradually emerge from the present confusion.

  • Enemy.

  • Our enemies have deep insights into us: They know our frailties, they actively want the worst for us

  • and they're bringing a desperate, mean intelligence to bear on our case.

  • Thinking of them helps beautifully to clarify our thoughts.

  • It can be unfeasibly hard to be a true friend to ourselves in the way we should be.

  • Our minds may well go blank if asked to imagine what a sweet and well-meaning person might advise us to do next.

  • We're so much better at getting into the heads of our bitterest foes.

  • They appreciate our weaknesses and temptations like no other.

  • We can at last put these characters to constructive use,

  • by doing the very opposite of what we suspect, probably very correctly, they might propose and say.

  • We will be energized and focused by the haunting voices of those dispiriting but very telling and mesmerizing judges:

  • Those who refuse to believe in us.

  • In a sense, we know the answer already, or at least one version of it.

  • We call it gut-instinct and it's there from the moment a dilemma first appears.

  • The Gut is the accumulation of all the decision-making lessons we've ever derived across our lives, revealed unconsciously at speed.

  • Most of us have become rather good at not listening to the Gut.

  • Probably it got us into trouble a number of times,

  • maybe pushing us into some crazy moments for which we paid dear.

  • So now we pride ourselves on being thinking people, who take their time, gather evidence

  • and make full use of their higher mental powers, as well we should.

  • Nevertheless, we thereby lose a source of important insight.

  • We should be brave enough to invite our Gut to the decision-making table,

  • not necessarily in order to follow it, but in order to know what it wants,

  • and then submit its stubborn and impatient certainties to gentle, rational cross-examination.

  • Death.

  • The largest, but always easily-forgotten certainty,

  • is that all our decisions are unfolding in the backdrop of a giant ticking death clock.

  • We should listen to its beat and take its daunting messages to heart.

  • The thought of Death has a habit of highlighting our responsibilities to ourselves

  • and of weakening our concern for living according to what is expected of us by society.

  • It's a terrifying agent of authenticity.

  • Death may lend us a perverse new sort of confidence to tackle challenges.

  • By frightening us about one enormous thing,

  • it may make us less scared of the many smaller obstacles in our way.

  • Our lives won't be what they could be

  • unless we submit pretty much every choice we face to the arbiter of eternity and oblivion.

  • Caution.

  • Somewhere around the table at every decision must be the voice of caution.

  • It wears dowdy clothes and speaks quietly.

  • It certainly lacks glamour in an age of bravado and bombast.

  • It's easy to feel that we must always and invariably jump because life has to be about giving the new a go.

  • But it may not be. Let's remember, Caution clears its throat to tell us

  • that most new businesses fail, most schemes end in disaster

  • and most future relationships will merely rehash the themes of a current, unsatisfactory one.

  • Furthermore, there is a huge amount to be lost

  • and there are many people around us who may get very hurt by our ambitions.

  • The devil one knows may just have the edge over the many demons one doesn't quite.

  • Caution doesn't look down on the idea of compromise,

  • it recognizes that there are, at points, simply no ideal options for the imperfect beings we ultimately are.

  • Caution has the bravery not always to try to rebel against reality.

  • Courage.

  • From an early age, we've learnt how to follow the rules,

  • wait in line and do the dutiful, expected things. We can be good boys and girls.

  • It got us to where we are today.

  • There would have been no other way to learn how to spell,

  • drive a car or take up a position in the working world.

  • But there can now be a subtle risk from an opposite direction.

  • The risk of being overly faithful for too long to conventions that were dreamt up without our particular interests and hopes in mind.

  • At points, we need vigorously to relearn the art of Courage,

  • to remember that the happiest lives have invariably had inflection points

  • where people did the slightly unexpected and weird thing, took a gamble and won.

  • Sometimes, Caution is just weakness and cowardice wrapped up in the cloak of self-deception.

  • Courage and Caution need to fight this one out, without any presumption of victory on either side.

  • Any hard decision we make will always by definition not be perfect.

  • But with such thinking behind us, we have a slightly better chance than usual of opting for the good enough choice.

  • Our videos are just the start of our content.

  • We believe in making the world a more emotionally intelligent place,

  • and to that end, we have now also published some extraordinary books,

  • as well as other merchandise that re-enforces some of the themes illustrated in our videos.

  • Please click on the link below to see more.

A good life is the fruit of a succession of good decisions, especially around love and work.

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B1 US caution decision gut decision making courage death

How to Make a Decision

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/04/23
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