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I’m curious about the process of making personal — and business decisions. Follow me as I explore this through my writing.

First, it helps to know what the good — and bad points of confirmation bias are.

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Recently, I suggested that biases like confirmation bias are like the dark side of the force in Star Wars. The post was well-received except for one, who pushed back. “I disagree,” he declared. He argued that our bias towards action over non-action, as in our sense of fight, flight, or freeze, has helped us survive. Better to respond to a possible threat than to do nothing, he argued. The instinct to survive isn’t a trait we see as evil or associate as being from the dark side. He had a point.

The debate left me thoughtful for days. Curiosity churned…

It’s curious, seeing a strategic thinker at work.

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I didn’t expect a film could teach me anything about strategic thinking. As I watched on, this trauma consultant was certainly thinking strategically. He was looking on from the foot of the bed, observing the patient, and listening to his colleagues as they told him what they had done. He glanced up — checking the patient’s vitals on the monitors above the bed. Digesting all of this, he then gave orders on what his team should do next. It’s curious, seeing a strategic thinker at work.

Curiosity drew me in — why was the consultant thinking strategically? Here was a…

It’s time to accept uncertainty when deciding

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Timing is everything right? — But when is the right time?

Although we have little appreciation of it, too much time is like a bad curse. You see, when we have time, we begin to believe it’s a cure for the uncertainty that lingers around every decision.

No decision is ever risk-free.

The challenge of life is accepting uncertainty always accompanies the future. No one knows how or when serendipity will appear — let alone whether it will be good or bad. Then there is the randomness of external factors — of entropy. …

A question that forces us to think about the outcome, to think about the consequences of our decision, and to think about the effects of our choice.

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Big decisions are often thrust upon us. Urgency — demands decisiveness. And thus, we underthink the choice before us. To make better decisions, we need to ask better questions — questions that inspire critical thinking. That’s the purpose of asking: Where will this decision take us?

Decisions present themselves in terms of the outcome. If we do x — we get y. As a result, we limit our critical thinking. We don’t think beyond the expected outcome — and this is a failure point in our decision-making process.

Where will this decision take us?

It’s a question that forces us…

How pollen has helped me appreciate what we can see

Photo by Kalea Jerielle on Unsplash

The path ahead was getting narrower, as a mix of grass, thistles, and stinging nettles grew ever closer. A bee floating amongst the mix of flowers revelled in the pollen saturated scene, as it hoovered amongst the flowers. The recent mix of showers and sun providing the undergrowth with the perfect fuel to fast-track its takeover of the path.

I lifted my arms above my head as I tried to weave through the plants, taking extra care to avoid the irritating nettles that loitered close to the ground. …

A question to highlight potential good and bad consequences

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Every decision we make leads to action — and those actions have consequences. But what might those consequences be? Considering the potential consequences of a decision can help us make better decisions.

This is the primary focus behind asking what the best/worst-case scenario is.

All too often, our subconscious plays out one of these scenarios as our imagination runs riot. Frustratingly, it tends to one or the other. Of course, an optimist will always focus more on the best outcome. Naturally, the pessimist will only see the worst. We must push beyond this limitation and seek both perspectives.

What is…

If it is, how?

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Faced with moving to a new home in a village 350 miles away, one question made the decision an easy one.

Is this a reversible decision — and if so, how?

It was a life goal to live in North Wales, so the fact we had to move gave us an opportunity. We weren’t buying, so renting give us an easy way out if we needed it. Knowing we could move back to the town we were moving from if we didn’t like it gave us the confidence to move. …

Thanks for your comments. In response to your questions, this article is over a year old now and I'd be quite confident in saying the 'unwritten' rules of Medium's distribution have changed in that time.

Since the beginning of 2021, there has been a shift towards more 'relational' content - mainly within the confines of followers. I suspect this brought a better balance between self-published and publication posted articles. Hence the changes you have seen.

The key with 'further distribution' is that it pushes your article out beyond your followers.

If you want to reach a bigger audience, then working out why articles were distributed is key. As you say, it is a rabbit hole you can easily get lost in.

To make good decisions you need to stop making bad ones first

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There is nothing more annoying than making bad decisions.

We all want to make good decisions. We always want to be correct. But all too often, we end up making a bad decision, ignoring common sense as we fool ourselves.

Good decision-making comes from a combination of factors. We have instincts to gauge the risk that comes from our sense of whether to fight/flight/freeze. Of course, we can also accurately assess the information we have using mental models. Our cognitive biases can help us — or distract us — depending on our mental state.

These are just a few of…

How to find a new perspective beyond your temporary feelings

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Temporary feelings ebb and flow through our minds all the time. And yet, despite our knowledge of them, we still make bold permanent decisions under their influence. We forget that feelings are temporary, let alone understand how dangerous it is to make permanent decisions whilst feeling this way.

Knowing that feelings are temporary offers us a moment of choice; to accept the temporary feelings — or to find a way through our thoughts to a safer, more logical way of thinking.

What we need is two-fold.

  1. A reminder our feelings are temporary. …

Darren Matthews

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