There are books that are informative and teach you something. There are books that are entertaining and help you relax. There are books that challenge you and inspire you to change.
And then there are books that cause a paradigm shift in you, that impact you in a lasting way.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Dan and Chip Heath was such a book for me. As was their first book Made to Stick, which I have blogged about before. Both had the combination of practical tips based on solid research presented in a clear and attractive way.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
Decisive is about making better choices, a topic we could all use some help in. The Heath brothers present practical strategies everyone can implement that will improve the quality of decisions we make. And these strategies aren’t time consuming, or complicated. It can be as simple as being aware of the processes in our brain, like the fact that we tend to only seek information that confirms our initial assessment or ‘gut feeling’. This confirmation bias plays a crucial role in decisions that we make, from hiring people, to making financial decisions, or deciding on strategies for our company or organization.
A second example they discuss is that we often let our emotions play a more important role than we should. Emotions like guilt don’t last, whereas they may leas us to make decisions which ramifications will be present for a long time. It’s why the Heath brothers advise to create a healthy (emotional) distance before making decisions, especially big ones.
One of the most valuable pieces of wisdom in Decisive, was the advice to widen your options. Too often, we narrow our choices too fast, making ourselves decide between two options for instance. Or we narrow our choice down to ‘should we do this or not’, for instance about buying a particular car or house. We make a list of pros and cons that theoretically should help us decide. But widening your options means taking a step back, thinking outside the box and asking yourself what other options are available. In the case of buying a new house, you could consider options like renting temporarily, remodeling the house you’re in, etc.
For my husband and me (we both love the book), the advice and language from Decisive has become a standard part of our decision making process. It’s not often that books make a lasting impact on you, but this one sure has.