In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision. This is the fifth in the series and third on WRAP – Attain Some Distance. There will be two more to close out the series over the coming weeks.
Attain Some Distance
It is said that ideas are like children, none are so wonderful as our own. Emotional attachment is inevitable in the creation process. For instance, if you write for a living, you are taught to put a first draft down on paper and then put it away for a while. This allows you to look at what you wrote with fresh eyes putting the emotional attachment far enough in the past. This typically helps to improve the end product. The same can be said about decision making. It is often important to put some time between you and the final decision to let the initial emotions fade away.
In their book, Decisive, the Heath brothers provide us with some tips and tricks to find ways to do this in order to optimize our key decisions.
The mission: To resist the disrupting influence of short-term emotion and ensure that you make a decision based on your core priorities
Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind
- If you’re agonizing, gather more options or information.
- Try 10/10/10.
- Fight the “status quo bias” (mere exposure + loss aversion).
- Shift perspectives to gain distance.
- Identify and enshrine your core priorities.
- Go on the offensive against lesser priorities.
Here is a little more detail on my favorites. Please download the workbook for more information.
Try 10/10/10. Attain some distance by talking through a 10/10/10 analysis with a friend. This will force you to label the short-term and long- term implications of your decisions, with the benefit of an outsider’s perspective on your decision. (Also, it can often be clarifying just to hear how your logic sounds when it comes out of your mouth …).
10/10/10 is the process of thinking through how you might feel about this decision in 10 days, 10 months and 10 years. What impact might it have over those timeframes?
Identify and enshrine your core priorities. Karen Douglas, a business consultant who owns her own firm, found herself with an overly packed calendar so she adopted a rule to assess new opportunities: “If it’s not a ‘Hell yes!”, it’s a ‘No.’” Is there a rule that would remind you of your priorities? (A person who moved to a new town without a good social network might adopt the exact opposite rule: “If it’s not a ‘Hell no!’, it’s a ‘Yes.’”)
Do you have Core Values and Priorities? Do you use them every day to help make decisions? Are your Priorities SMART? (I like to add an additional A re: Authority – Do you have the authority to carry out this priority?)
Identify and enshrine your core priorities. Do a forensics analysis of your calendar. What would the outside investigator conclude about your core priorities? If you don’t think you’d be satisfied with the forensic analysis, ask yourself: Which activities can I stop doing to free up more time for what’s important?
These last two are ones I often use with clients especially when it comes to Core Purpose and BHAG discussions for the first of the two. Reviewing your calendaring can be a sobering event. There are those that think you can tell what is truly important to a person by analyzing his/her calendar and credit card statements. Actions speak louder that words. Below is an exchange between father and son that illustrates this beautifully.
SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s really none of your business. Why do you ask?”
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh. (With his head down).
SON: “Daddy, can I please borrow $50?”
DAD: “REALLY?! If you’re asking to borrow money for some silly toy or game, you can just march yourself straight to your room to think about why you’re being so selfish. I work hard everyday to provide for this family, and this is the thanks I get?”
The little boy went quietly to his room and shut the door. So, the dad went to his son’s door and opened it.
DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”
SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, and maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.” The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!” Son pulls crumbled bills from pillow
DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”
SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”
This could have been a story about a team member or a treasured business partner or any number of people whose relationship you value but have prioritized, many times unwittingly through inaction, as less important. It also could have been a task or initiative you are not getting to because the minutia of the day or the minute becomes the priority instead.
Decisions we make have, minimally, one other side. By choosing to do something, we are also choosing to not do other things by default. By attaining some distance, we can better understand the ripples – short term and long term – of this decision.
Next post is the final in the WRAP framework – Prepare to be Wrong. This should be fun as we all LOVE being wrong.
Bill – Certified Growth Coach
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