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Separate decision quality from results

People have a natural tendency to conflate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome. They're not the same thing. 

You can make a smart, rational choice but still get poor results. That doesn't mean you should have made a different choice; it simply means that other factors (such as luck) influenced the results.

You cannot control outcomes; you can only control your actions.

Thinking in Bets

Becoming comfortable with uncertainty and not knowing is a vital step to becoming a better decision-maker.

What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process, and that process must include an attempt to accurately represent our own state of knowledge.

Luck and Incomplete Information

Luck and Incomplete Information

Why don't smart decisions always lead to good results? Because we don't have complete control over our lives — and we don't have all of the information. 

You can opt not to drink on New Year's Eve, for instance, but still get blindsided by somebody who did to drink and drive. You made a quality decision, but happenstance hit you upside the head anyhow.

Make smarter decisions

  • Stop thinking in terms of right and wrong. Few things are ever 0% or 100% likely to occur. Instead, we should think in bets.
  • Before we commit to a course of action, we should think about possible outcomes and how likely each of those outcomes is to occur. Every choice carries an opportunity cost

Improve the quality of your decisions

  • Learn to examine your own beliefs. If you're certain about something, explore the opposing viewpoint.
  • Build a network of trusted advisors. Draw on people from a variety of backgrounds and belief systems. 
  • When you make decisions, think of the future. Practice backcasting, a visualization method in which you define the desired outcome then figure out how you might get there.

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