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Sorting Out Your Decisions Before You Make Them

by Rick Baker
On Apr 24, 2017

On the Nature of Decisions

Every one of us makes numerous decisions every day.

Many of our decisions are small, like - “What shirt should I wear today?” Some of our decisions are larger with more serious consequences, like – “How should I go about firing this employee?”

Some decisions trigger strong and challenging emotional responses, like – “Should I tell this person my true feelings?”

Other decisions involve trade-offs between goals, like – “Should I stick to my diet or eat that chocolate-dipped ice-cream cone?” 1 [Often these decisions pit short-term rewards against long-term rewards.]

Some decisions involve massive risks involving money, reputation, relationships, etc.

Decisions involve the study of past and present data and the forecasting of future outcomes.

This is just a sampling of the ways you can sort decisions before you make them. If you take the time, and it will be a surprisingly large amount of time, to analyze the decisions you make in a 24-hour day then you will discover the wide variety of decisions you make. You will be able to consider the ‘nature’ of your decisions and you will be able to categorize your decisions by their ‘nature’ and confirm the frequency of each major type of decision.

But – odds are you will never do that 24-hour exercise.

Perhaps, you will buy into sorting your decisions into two types/natures: easy decisions & tough decisions? This simple sorting will be a very good first step toward understanding then planning the types of decisions you face regularly.

On the Method of Decisions

There are also numerous ways to make decisions.

Decisions can be knee-jerks and blinks, relying on unconscious responses, emotional waves and intuition.

Decisions can be crafted by masters and orchestrated by maestros. Capturing this in a shorter description - when we make decisions we can “Plan the Work and Work the Plan” [paraphrasing Napoleon Hill].

This article is about planned decisions, which can be sorted into 3 'methods' 2:

Consultative and consensus decisions involve trade-offs, as examples:

As psychologists and judges will confirm:

  • the ‘nature’ of the decision is important,
  • the decision outcome is important, and
  • the procedure or ‘method’ used to create the decision is important...especially if you want people to "buy-in".

Sorting Decisions by ‘Nature’ and ‘Method’

Simple tools exist to help people think through and sort out their decisions - examples include Pareto's Principle [80/20 Rule], Covey's Time Management Matrix and Berne's Transactional AnalysisMuch time and effort can be saved by using these simple 1-page tools to sort out the best ways to make decisions. Also, these tools can be used to reduce decision-making conflicts and increase decision buy-in. It is a good idea to have a number of these tools in your decision-making toolkit. You can use them to set your personal decision-making rules and you can use them to communicate with others on your decision-making teams.

Here’s a starter tool you and your decision-makers can use to create a picture of the way you sort decisions by 'nature' and 'method' -

 

Footnotes

  1. As a general rule: when decisions align with goals they promote good habits; when decisions do not align with goals they promote bad habits.
  2. Brian Tracy recommended these categories. 

Helping People who are Indecisive

by Rick Baker
On Apr 11, 2017

It seems some people choose to be indecisive. However, it would be dangerous to jump to the conclusion that decision-avoidance is a ‘happily made’ choice. More likely, decision-avoidance is an involuntary reaction or a conscious effort aimed at removing the possibility of negative consequences, which often follow decisions. For example, decisions open the door for second-guessing and criticism.

Some people are indecisive simply because it has become one of their bad habits. For these people - what started out as conscious decision-avoidance, over time, became a habit…i.e., a bad habit [for those who believe decisions are of value].

Some people are indecisive and appear to be oblivious to their predicament…it seems they know no better way. While their indecision may not register in their consciousness, ‘deep down’ their brains/minds are aware of the avoidance and, probably, they are experiencing some level of anxiety as a result of the avoidance.

The roots of this bad habit – indecision - are usually lack of drive or lack of self-confidence. However, in some cases indecision is caused by an anxiety disorder…perhaps, a very-troubling Anxiety Disorder.  

While some may argue one cause is “laziness”, that word may be a little too strong.

If the person is struggling with an Anxiety Disorder then ‘laziness’ is an inappropriate description of the situation. In fact, when Anxiety Disorders are present, thinking or talking about laziness can be quite harmful. As an alternative to thinking and talking about laziness, we can think and talk about strategies designed to help people who struggle with Anxiety Disorders.

We can go one step farther.

We can also use these strategies to help any person who is indecisive…that is, we can help them if we are skilled at delivering the help and they are ready, willing, and able to receive it.

***

Some people choose to be indecisive. For example, I know a fellow who chooses to wait 2 days before responding to troubling or complicated email. That has two potentially positive implications: (1) management of task-timing [i.e., to maintain personal organization] and (2) control of emotions, to ensure productive communications. 

 

Tags:

Delegation & Decisions | Habits: Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things

Building Self-confidence

by Rick Baker
On Mar 28, 2017

A strong desire to achieve promotes self-confidence.

Positive self-image and high self-esteem promote self-confidence. 

Sense of purpose and goals promote self-confidence. 

A commitment to take action promotes self-confidence. 

Affirmations promote self-confidence. 

Strong personal values for fair play promote self-confidence. 

Positive thinking, especially about other people, promote self-confidence.

Willingness to serve others promotes self-confidence.   

Truthfulness promotes self-confidence.

A keen sense of justice promotes self-confidence. 

'Planning your work and working your plan' - that also promotes self-confidence. 

These are some of the important messages Napoleon Hill embedded in his Self-confidence Formula. Hill understood self-confidence is a fragile thing...easily disrupted...time-consuming to build...energy-consuming to hold fast. 

Self-confidence is a habit. It is a good habit. 

Good habits don't just happen. Good habits require planning. Good habits require ongoing work. 

Escaping a whirlpool of compounding errors

by Rick Baker
On Feb 6, 2017

Problems are what life throws at us to make sure we know we are truly alive.

Errors are what we do to make sure we don’t forget we are human.

While we are accustomed to experiencing and working through an ongoing string of problems and errors. From time to time our errors compound in surprising ways. When that happens, sometimes, small errors lead to strings of errors and that can lead to severe problems and major damage.

When we have made a little error we have choices. One of the choices is to ignore the error. Another choice is to remedy the error and do that as quickly as possible. When we make these reaction-to-errors choices we pave the path for habits. These habits can be good habits. These habits can be bad habits. Our changes are matters of our choice.

When we react to errors by making extreme choices [extreme changes], we tend to fail. For example, when we overdo discipline we tend to alienate and annoy people. On the other hand, when we fail to illustrate sufficient discipline people tend to wander and make poor decisions. In either case, at either extreme, errors tend to compound.

When we react to problems with too much discipline, the consequence can be avoidance due to fear or some other negative mindset. When we react to problems with a lack of discipline, the resulting actions tend to be lackadaisical. Either way, if the extreme practice is continued to the point of habit, we tend to breed compounding errors.

So, when we react to errors in inappropriate ways, sometimes we get caught in a whirlpool of compounding errors.

When we are in a whirlpool of compounding errors it is as if time gets away on us. We feel like we don’t have enough time. This shortage-of-time feeling becomes an excuse, a mindset that justifies more errors. As problems continue to whirl relentlessly around us, we feel we are losing the little control we have been clinging to. As the whirlpool rages on, our frustrations, worries, and fears expand. These negative mindsets consume our energy and our positive-spirit and this reduces our ability to deal with or learn from our problems.

We cannot let that happen.

We cannot take our errors lightly or allow our problems to get the better of us.

When we are caught in a whirlpool of compounding errors we must resist the current. We must fight the urge to tolerate small errors. We must give fresh thought to old problems. We must take new actions. We must seek out the lessons contained in our errors.

We must use every opportunity to learn from errors.

Only new approaches will help us escape the whirlpool of compounding errors.

Indecision and the Procrastination Death Spiral

by Rick Baker
On Feb 2, 2017

Some people choose to be indecisive.

Some people are indecisive simply because it has become one of their bad habits.

Some people are indecisive and are oblivious to their predicament…apparently, they know no better way.

The roots of this bad habit – indecision - are usually lack of drive or lack of self-confidence. While some may argue one cause is “laziness”, that word may be a little too strong. Some people simply lack drive in the area of making decisions. At the same time others find them indecisive they can be busy doing work they deem to be more important than making decisions, in particular – they can be doing things they find more important than making business decisions.

Regardless, if a person is working and being indecisive about their work then the roots of their indecision are around lack of drive and lack of self-confidence.

In business, indecision can generate very serious business problems. Perhaps the worst of the problems is, the contagion of indecision kills momentum and that creates a confused and stalled business culture. A stalled business culture is easily identified: the people en masse wander around decisions, avoiding clarity of thought and clarity of conclusions.

When a business culture is stalled by contagious indecision, only a strong leader can remove the problem. On occasion, this leadership can rise from within the ranks. On occasion, this leadership is derived from intentional change at the top of the hierarchy.

And, the stalled-culture problem must be removed. If it is not removed then the procrastination death spiral begins…and the business is doomed to a life marked by sub-standard performance or a death by a thousand procrastinated cuts.

Tags:

Delegation & Decisions | Habits: Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things

The Law of the Barbell: Some people spot, some people lift, and some people just keep adding weights.

by Rick Baker
On Jan 30, 2017

For example, consider Civility...

Civility is defined as polite and respectable behaviour. It is part of good manners. Good manners means things like respect, civility, and harmony. Whereas, bad manners means the opposite: disrespect, incivility, and conflict. Good manners are linked to courteous behavior, which is marked by visible consideration of others. 

Some people 'spot': they return kindness with kindness; if you are respectful of them, they return the favour.

Some people 'lift': they display natural civility and courteousness, both learned traits [either taught by parents or others in early childhood or learned through self-education].

Some people 'just keep adding weights': they appear to derive satisfaction out of criticizing, humbling, and otherwise causing grief for other people. Evidently, they do not understand this approach removes the ability for long-term success. Sure, it can yield short-term results. Regardless, over time, no strong person will tolerate people who 'just keep adding weights' to their lives. And, people who are not strong will struggle more as weights are added and ultimately be crushed, in spirit if not physically. And, people who are not strong are by nature not very helpful on the road to long-term success.

The road to long-term success contains a nearly-endless series of challenges. People who 'spot' and people who 'lift' do a better job of handling those challenges. People who are civil and courteous do a better job of handling those challenges.

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