Decision-making – the sweet dilemma – from Chapter 11 – The Moon of Instant Stress – Page 211 – 212
The Chimp Paradox book also website Chimpparadox.co.uk
Imagine you have two sweets in front of you. One is green and one is yellow. You are asked to choose one and there is no consequence. This is easy: it will take a moment to pick one of the sweets.
Now imagine that you are asked to choose again but this time there are consequences. If you pick the right sweet you will be given any one thing that you ask for. If you pick the wrong sweet then you will lose the one thing that you love the most.
Now it becomes very difficult to choose. The reason is obvious: because the consequences are severe and will have a life-changing impact. The stress is coming from the consequences and not the decision-making.
The problem now is that logic is going out of the window as the Chimp takes over. There is no more information to gain and waiting is going to make no difference because your choice will always be random. The Chimp is not allowing you to choose because it is looking at the consequences. It will keep going over the same consequences and won’t allow you to move forward. Using logic, the Human can easily make the choice because it has reasoned that, as there is no more information to gather, I may as well choose and stop suffering and then deal with the consequences.
In circumstances such as this, the Chimp will do two things. It will stop you from making decisions for fear of getting it wrong and it will also make the consequences seem catastrophic, even if they are not, in order to stop you moving. The best way to solve the problem is to establish a routine for decision-making so that it becomes an Autopilot.
• First gather all the information possible to make the decision.
• Accept that some information may never be available and some will arrive too late – so ignore this because you can’t do anything about it.
• Look at the consequences of making each choice and see if one is serious – accept that both choices will have consequences.
• Tell your Chimp to stop making it into a catastrophe and get some perspective – be firm and remove or contain emotion.
• If appropriate try laughing at yourself or at the situation – it’s better than crying.
• If you still can’t decide then there can’t be much difference between the choices, so toss a coin and go with it and deal with the consequences.
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The more I read about the guy the more I appreciate the skill with which complex things are presented – if you think it seems condescending I don’t think that is the intention – the guy teaches medical students, runs world-class masters sprint times and allows elite athletes to achieve their potential and is pretty modest in the interviews I have seen.
Helping you to understand the structure and functioning of your mind and how to apply this to get the best out of yourself and others.
The Psychological Universe offers a structure by which you can clearly see the seven main areas that you can work on. It also shows the secondary areas (the moons) that are important for stability.