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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' -



  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. 

15 Ways to Influence Thinking & Inspire Action

by Rick Baker
On Dec 22, 2016

Vision inspires

Leadership has a few essential ingredients. For example, the leader must possess a level of intelligence and the leader must possess a character that appeals to followers. Another essential ingredient is Vision. Good-to-great leaders hold a long-lasting, vivid image of what they want in their minds and they communicate that message to their followers. Some good-to-great leaders have an innate gift of communication. Other good-to-great leaders learn the art of communication.

Values fuel the right actions

Everyone lives by a set of personal Values, whether or not they are expressed verbally. The greatest of leaders naturally live by their Values in a most consistent manner. And they have a habit of painting verbal pictures around their Values. Good-to-great leaders' thoughts and actions and communications are consistent. This clarity around Values sends a consistent message to followers. The message energizes followers. In this way, the leaders' Values fuel everything.

Goals provide direction

Good-to-great leaders set long-term goals and they set short-term goals...they know the importance of little milestone steps that guide positive actions toward the long-term goal. Good-to-great leaders know the linkage between good habits and long-term goals. Good habits help people achieve their long-term goals whereas bad habits do not. Short-term goals provide the opportunity for testing, doing, failing, learning, and adjusting the next sets of short-term goals and actions. 

Intent doesn't go without saying

Good-to-great leaders, when compared to average people/leaders, somehow, do a better job of understanding other people. So, somehow, they do a better job of choosing people whose intentions are more aligned to fit on common ground...rallying around a cause. Some good-to-great leaders possess natural gifts of empathy. Other good-to-great leaders figure out how to read other people and they start the process by sharing discussion of Intentions. When in doubt, they ask.

Stories get remembered

Great leaders are great communicators. They are attuned to their life-experiences and how some of those life-experiences serve as excellent examples that can be shared with other people, followers and others who could be followers in the future. Great leaders create powerful, magnetic stories around these pertinent life-experiences. They practice delivering these stories. Then they use every opportunity to present and repeat the stories...to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Take Immediate Steps to Improve Communication

When communication gets off track, straying from the desired direction, good leaders work to improve communication so it returns to the right track. Good leaders do not let interpersonal conflicts fester. They know success relies on a level of harmony between followers. So, when dysfunction is evident they address it. Good leaders communicate to ensure their followers' harmony and focus.

Design Tools to Help People

Tools serve people...making their lives easier, making their lives more productive, adding quality to their lives...assisting them as they build. Good leaders know the power inherent in tools. Good leaders ensure their people have access to good tools. And, to maximize opportunities for performance good leaders ensure their people have customized tools...creative, customized tools.

Focus on Solutions

Leaders see solutions. Solutions and solution-thinking are around the essence of leadership. Good leaders connect with followers who are like minded about solutions. Some followers are naturally solution-oriented, others need to learn that problems are the routes to solutions, growth, and opportunities. Leaders do 2 things to promote solution-orientation: they lead by example...and...they teach.

Seek Simple 

When people go about business things can get complicated and that can happen quickly. Good leaders know the difference between simple, complicated, and complex. Good leaders conserve their energy, saving it for the complicated and complex things. One strategy that ensures energy is conserved so it can be put to best use is Seeking Simple...separating wheat from chaff...helping followers do the same.

Understand Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Process, & Situations

"People, Processes, & Situations" is an example of seeking simple.  Good leaders know success is all about people...so good leaders invest time connecting with, serving, mentoring, and strengthening good people. Good leaders ensure processes [including tools] serve people, helping people convert actions into results. Good leaders know situations have a most-powerful effect on behaviour, so they plan for and construct situations.

Understand People Do Only 3 Things: Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things

Good Habits are things people think and do that help them achieve long-term desires and goals. Bad Habits are things that people think and do that do not help them achieve long-term desires and goals. Good leaders use these simple definitions to inject clarity into their lives. Then good leaders work at reducing their performance of Bad Habits and expanding their performance of Good Habits. And, good leaders test New Things...relentlessly seeking more Good Habits.

Take Talent To Task

Good leaders are fascinated by people's talents. When people's talents show a capability of aligning with the trust of the leader's goals, good leaders ensure the talented person has access to (1) opportunities to put the talent to productive use, (2) specialized knowledge to complement the talent, and (3) time to practice skills to hone the talent into a personal strength. Then good leaders don't leave things to chance - they help people connect personal strengths to important tasks. 

Don’t force change…construct it with comfort

Good leaders know change is constructive only when people are comfortable. And personal and business growth happens when people learn how to expand their comfort zones. Knowing these things, good leaders consider people's comfort/stress levels and design change in increments that help expand comfort zones without triggering the destructive consequences that naturally happen when people are forced into discomfort zones. Good leaders also know this correct approach to change 'dominoes' as confidence escalates.

Repeat clearly, "I do have time!"

Good leaders know the importance of leading by example. So, they know if they say "I don't have time" or "I'm too busy" their followers will pick up on that, think the same way, talk the same way, and act accordingly...spreading the lack-of-abundance mindset to one and all. Knowing this, good leaders remove the "I don't have time" & "I'm too busy" bad habit from their thoughts and words. They replace the bad habit with good habits: as examples, they apply the 80/20 Rule and they practice abundance thought and solution talk.

Change character for the better

All great leaders changed their character. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln performed one of the greatest self-transformations. When he was a young man he had the habit of openly criticizing other people. In 1842 Lincoln publicly criticized Illinois state employee James Shields. Shields took exception to the criticism and challenged Lincoln to a duel. The 2 men faced one another with weapons in hands. Fortunately their seconds intervened. Lincoln used the incident as a life-lesson and he chose to change his character for the better...rarely criticizing others. Lincoln's change of character took him from the dueling field to the White House. 



In favour of 1-Page Tools

by Rick Baker
On Dec 9, 2016

We have designed over one hundred and fifty 1-Page Tools. These tools help people ease into learning by narrowing focus on the task and providing a short series of straightforward steps, helping people move from task-start to task-finish.

Our 1-Page Tools cover a wide range of business activity, both strategic [for example, creating a Vision statement] and tactical [for example, making a decision].

Our process for designing 1-Page Tools is as follows:

  • For each topic, we gather information from at least a dozen resources, pick the best pieces of that information and create a series of steps to allow progression from a cold start to a desired outcome – task completion.  
  • Next, we simplify the 1-Page Tool until it fits neatly onto one page. Simplicity and brevity are essential ingredients. 
  • Then we test the 1-Page Tool in workshops, observing people as they use it to determine whether or not people have difficulty with any of the steps. 
  • Then we create workshop education to help people get over the most-common hurdles...providing advance education so people can accomplish the steps. 

In addition, as we test 1-Page Tools in workshops, we listen attentively to the questions people ask when they're trying to take specific steps and we watch to see whether or not people exhibit satisfaction when they have completed the 1-Page Tools. A feeling of accomplishment is an essential aspect of success. We use this real-life workshop feedback to hone the 1-Page Tools until we know the majority of workshop attendees can complete the tools with a minimal amount of instruction and coaching. That way we know workshop participants will be able to teach others at their organizations how do use our 1-Page Tools.

We update our 1-Page Tools when new information/education helps us make improvements.

Here's an example of a 1-Page Tool:


1-Page Tools

Thought Tweet #845

by Rick Baker
On Oct 11, 2013

Thought Tweet #845 Do you know the actions that will cause your company to succeed?


The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Do you know the actions you need to do in your role for your company to succeed?

Are you volunteering and committing yourself to take those actions?

Are you volunteering and committing to resist taking other actions that have no clear connection with your company's success?

Do you have the tools you need to do what needs to be done?

Do you have the people-support you need to do what needs to be done?

Do you have the self-support you need to bolster the internal drive that will energize you to do what needs to be done? 


1-Page Tools | 80/20 Rule | Questions?: The Art of Asking Good Questions | Thought Tweets

Popeye said, "I am what I am" but in the end he always ate his spinach.

by Rick Baker
On Oct 9, 2013

Really, I don't want to get too philosophical about Popeye....although, I must admit, he possessed a unique character well worth the time and effort of concerted philosophical exploration.


I first met Popeye via black-and-white TV when I was a young [and possibly impressionable] child. From the get-go, Popeye annoyed me. It seemed to me he wasn't very bright. He tolerated all that Brutus-abuse for no good reason at all. While he was a man of questionable vigor and fighting ability he knew he had a secret weapon...that can of yucky cooked spinach...that yucky spinach that made him invincible. He had the tool right there with him. Yet, episode after episode Popeye refused to eat his spinach until the very last minute...placing me in a situation where I was perilously close to failing to make it back to school before the bell.

So, I grew up perceiving Popeye as:

  • A rather weak-minded fellow...yet, his "I am what I am" confirms he had a level of self-knowledge and a grounding for an at-least-somewhat pleasing personality.
  • An obstinate character, the kind of person who ignores that excellent Mary Poppins' spoonful-of-sugar-helps-the-medicine-go-down advice [in Popeye's case...helps the spinach go down]...yet, at the end of the day, a guy who does his best and gets the job done
  • A loveable guy who was doomed to struggle through each and every battle.
To this day, and defying all logic, I like cooked spinach!
[I must remember to bring some cans of it to work.]


1-Page Tools | Beyond Business | Change: Creating Positive Change | Hero Worship

The problem with programmed How-To courses

by Rick Baker
On Aug 19, 2013

When it comes to education, people won't bend over backwards!

The problem with programmed How-To courses - I mean the problem with book-long, multi-lesson, packaged education with role playing - is - they do not work.

On average, people can remember about 7 things, maybe 9. So, no matter how terrific a How-To education course might appear to the folks who spent hundreds or thousands of hours creating it, other people will understand little of the content and put even less of it to good use.

Most people cannot remember dozens let alone hundreds of pages of How-To instructions. So, as soon as they see a volume of self-improvement education they turn off. Even if they suspect it could contain good stuff, most people know they will not take the time to study the volume. If they start to read it, most people soon stop and replace the activity with something offering more-immediate gratification.

Everyone knows that.

And most people don't bend over backwards to obtain self-help.

To address this problem, the folks who teach self-improvement focus on increasing the entertainment value in the delivery of the knowledge.

Yes, entertainment value = near-term gratification [of some sort].

But, single doses of entertainment value do nothing to promote improved learning of good habits. Prolonged repetition of single doses of entertainment value may breed some near-term warm-and-fuzzy-this-education-is-fun thoughts...and may even go so far as to provide a little jolt of self-motivation. However, entertainment value will not cause the lessons to stick and take hold. 

To help people self-improve we need to do 2 things well:

  1. We need to deliver education in small doses...small simple steps. In the long run, simplicity outruns entertainment value. Simplicity captures clarity and appeals to common sense. Learners have always built their learning on simplicity: consider the building blocks of our childhood and the building blocks of the Great Pyramids. Simple pieces. Spirited Leaders has developed 1-Page Tools with this in mind. To accomplish much - learn, take, and repeat simple steps until they become foundations for good habits. We need to resist the urge to create even-more-clever emotion-grabbing phrases and fancy-packaging of advice. We need to keep our entertaining acronyms and educational mind-pictures under control. We need to be more comfortable expressing common sense.
  2. We need to customize the education to fit individuals. Textbooks work well when students are facing the gun that demands, "Learn or fail". And, even if there is no performance gun, textbooks work well for some people...for example, those people whom Gallup assesses as 'Learner' tend to enjoy textbooks and full-length How-To manuals. On the other hand, Gallup-Learners are only a small fraction of the people we encounter every business day. Most people do not like textbooks, manuals, or other things that remind them of the learning-guns they faced when in school. Yet, most people do want to learn...they just don't want to do it your way...they want to do it their way. We can help them develop skills by incorporating their real-life situations into our education processes rather than asking them to suffer through things like awkward role playing. To do this, we need to expand 1-on-1 education activity...with a focus on customizing rather than standardizing.
So, when we help business leaders we need to:
  • ensure we capture common sense,
  • seek simple,
  • deliver education in small doses, &
  • customize education to fit individuals.


1-Page Tools | Habits: Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things | Seeking Simple!

Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.