How to Make Better Decisions

This video is the first of two videos that I’m making to help you make better decisions. Why? I want to live a life of happiness and meaning. I want to help you live a life of even more happiness and meaning. Watch the video for a deep discussion

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Hello my friends. It’s Bryan here.

This video is the first of two videos that I’m making to help you make better decisions. Why? I want to live a life of happiness and meaning. I want to help you live a life of even more happiness and meaning.

I know that if we can make good decisions, especially if we can make good decisions consistently or good decisions faster, or good decisions that we can stand by, not doubt, not revisit, we’ll have a better chance of doing that.

I’m reminded of something I heard the World Series of Poker Champion Phil Hellmuth talk about when he shared strategies that he used to win the World Series of Poker. One of the things he said was, “Winning at that level is really about making more good decisions than bad decisions over a long period of time.”

To get through all the different rounds, to play, it’s not just risking everything occasionally and hoping you get lucky but instead, it is kind of grinding it out, to be honest. Life is often that way, isn’t it?

Although there are certain moments where we do get the opportunity to make a major life decision, the reality is each day is a series of decisions and most of those aren’t these major life altering decisions. When we make good decisions, over a long period, that’s when we have the best opportunity to build the lives we want, to be the people we want to be. That’s the theory.

Let’s look at this in practice. This morning at 2:08 AM I got a text message from a friend of mine named Matt. And Matt was asking me what I thought about his academic career. He’s in college. He was saying, “hey – do you think I should study biology get a minor in chemistry and go work for this company?”

It was a little bit out of the blue. Although I’ve certainly been there myself, up in the wee hours contemplating which direction my life should take, I didn’t think it’s really up to me. I can give Matt my opinion, but it’s his life.

As I look at that kind of question, and the kinds of questions I make in my own life, one of the tools that I’ve discovered can be very useful in getting clarity about that is using something that the thinking expert, Edward de Bono talks about. If you don’t know this guy, he’s worth Googling. He’s got some amazing thoughts. One of them by the way, is that intelligence and good thinking are not the same thing.

You can be very intelligent, and not necessarily be a good or an effective thinker. Conversely, you can be a very good thinker, you can be good at thinking. In the same way you can be good at a sport or a skill like an instrument and not necessarily have the greatest intelligence. But you can produce a greater outcome than somebody that has a high intelligence if you use good thinking.

What is good thinking? That’s a big subject. When it comes to decision making, this one idea that’s Edward de Bono’s that I want to share with you, that I want to share with you Matt, that you can apply and see if it’s useful to you, is really designed just to help us see things we didn’t see before in our own thinking.

What does that mean? Often when we’re trying to make a decision we’re thinking through it. We’re staying in our own mind. Sometimes it feels like we’re going around in circles. Perhaps we bring a friend in or we even consult an expert or a coach or something. That can be useful as well.

The idea of using a thinking tool like this one Edward de Bono teaches called PNI – Positive Negative Interesting. And to write it down so that you get it out of your head and get it even out of conversation. Get it on paper, you can refer to it. You can refer to it later. Years later, even figure out what was I thinking?

What the PNI is – Positive, Negative, Interesting you go ahead and you make three columns. You go through them sequentially. What is it about this decision that’s positive. What is it about this decisions that’s a negative. What is it about this decision that’s really neither that’s just interesting. The interesting column is very useful because we often have a tendency to just say that’s good or bad. Or positive or negative. Or I like that or I don’t. And instead, this opens up the space of just observing. What is about this decision? I’m not in your shoes, of course, Matt, but as I thought through your decision about your course of study, here were some of the things that I thought about; perhaps the positives are if you do follow that course of study, perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to learn from some top professors.

You’ll be able to spend another year or two on a beautiful campus. At the end of it, you’ll have a degree. There’s more of course. You keep going down that line and you just do an exhaustive thought process that’s captured all on paper. Then you move on to what’s the negative. Perhaps you delay earning any income. You’re going to be in school a couple years, you’re either going to have to work while you go to school. You’re going to put off working full time so you delay earning income. Maybe you end up with some student debt. Probably put that in the negative column. Then when it comes to interesting, that can be things just like I get to see interesting architecture on the campus or spend time in some buildings I’ve never been in. Maybe it’s you get to see the seasons change on this campus again. Which of course could be a positive. You could see that as a negative spending another winter here. Maybe that falls in the interesting column. You do that.

The point of all of this is again to help you see something that maybe you didn’t see before. Just getting that out of your head. Out of your thoughts on to the paper. What that reminds me of something that one of my heroes, Werner Erhard talked about. He said that, “Stunning breakthroughs aren’t the process of thinking, they’re the process of seeing.” They come from the process of seeing. This PNI exercise, what can it help you see?

Then when you revisit the decision, thinking through that, feeling through that, with the benefit of having gotten that all out on paper. Got that flat. Hopefully that’s helpful to you. Where can you apply this in your own life? Where are you faced with a decision? Maybe something you’ve been putting off. Maybe you have an opportunity. I invite you to go ahead and try this. The PNI.

Let me know how it works for you. Let me know what tools or models or ideas you have when it comes to decision making. Anything that’s been useful to you share it with me. I’d really appreciate that. I do thank you for watching. I look forward to talking to you again very soon. Until then, take care.

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Bryan Miller is a Utah leadership coach, speaker, trainer, author, and presenter. Bryan is also a seeker, mentor, and coach on the subject of “Good Living.”