How to make better decisions.

It was SO hard to push the girls down the page, but people were beginning to wonder if the blog was still going. 😉 Well, it is. You can still see the Triple Threat if you scroll down far enough.

Now, on to the anticipated follow-up to our Ask the Readers Poll.

Are you familiar with driving under the influence?

You don’t have to have been arrested for D.U.I. to be familiar with it. Your family may have been affected by someone else’s D.U.I. You may have done it and never gotten caught. You may have just had a drink or two and driven home “just fine”.

The point is that just about everyone understands what driving under the influence means. Technically, it is the act of operating a vehicle (including bicycle, boat, airplane or horse) after consuming alcohol or using drugs.

Now that you see that the law includes horses, do we have a few more affirmations on the first question? 😉

Basically, you are not you when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Therefore, you make driving decisions different from those that you would normally make

Enough about DUI. What does this have to do with people who visit

You are under the influence EVERY DAY.

It’s a different kind of DUI. We are all Deciding Under the Influence.

Last week’s Ask the Readers Poll posed the question “Where do you find inspiration?” This is the follow-up post.

As of Tuesday, June 9, 28 votes placed Nature on top with 10 votes followed by Other People with 8 votes. Well, everyday we make thousands of decisions. And you haven’t made even one of them on your own.

Humans don’t really make decisions. We make comparisons.

Let’s say you went looking for a house/car/horse and the first one you found was perfect. What’d you do? . . . Go look at another one. Why? You had to in order to make a comparison. If you didn’t have to go look at another one, you were subconciously comparing to some other baseline representation of what you were looking for – Something you had an experience with in the past.

Here is an image from the book Predictably Irrational that comes from the excerpt found here. It would really be worth a read, but here’s the gist:

Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, gave these options to 100 MIT students. (MIT is a prestigious university in Massachusetts known for it’s brilliant technical students)

The result:

  • 16 students wanted Internet-only
  • ZERO students wanted Print-only
  • 84 students wanted Print-and-Internet

Then, Mr. Ariely gave 100 students these choices:

Do you think the results were the same? I mean, no one chose Print-only so everything should be the same, right?

Nope. Here are the results:

  • 68 students chose Internet-only: Up from 16
  • Only 32 chose Print-and-Internet: Down from 84

The mere presence of the decoy Print-only option gives us something else to compare. And we go for the better deal EVERY TIME.

Predictably Irrational really is a great book packed with interesting stuff like this. It’s an easy read though, so if you want to know more about why we make irrational decisions over and over again, you’ll have to buy it and read it for yourself. There’s simply not enough room here to share all I gained from reading this book.

So why is this relevant to readers?

How can we make better decisions?

Good question. It’s obvious that we are all influenced by something. And since you read, you are now more aware of this fact. Now you know that everything is a comparison to something else. If most of your day is filled with negativity, you’ll tend to be more negative. Do you think most ranchers are conservative because they own land, pay property taxes, inherit estates? Nope.

J.M. O'BrienLife-long ranchers are more conservative because the behavior they witness every day in cattle, horses, nature, etc. is a survival of the fittest type of behavior. If something is weak, it dies. A momma cow earns her keep by having calves or she goes to the packer. Everything has a purpose. And a natural, logical path delivers that purpose or changes will be made. And so ranchers are logical. They are usually conservative, and they are probably the ones voting for nature as their inspiration. Plenty of wealthy individuals obtain property and animals and don’t have conservative values. That’s because they are not continually exposed to those kinds of values. They don’t have those to compare to. And they are probably not inspired by nature.

Of course there is a difference between inspiration and influence. Inspiration usually leaves you with a sense of awe. Influence usually leaves you with a sense of ‘I’ll take this rather than that’. Our sources of inspiration, however, shed a great deal of light on what influences us. If you chose Other People as a source of inspiration, you probably are blessed with at least one person you know you are influenced by and whom you model your decision making after. But, know this – You are also influenced by many other people in your life.

So now that we know that we aren’t in control of our decision making, we can make better decisions. Just like the Print-only decoy that the Economist marketers presented, life includes decoys every day. Certain circumstances, weather, people, etc. Think about them independantly and then make choices. Find positive sources of influence.

Be the influencer.
Do you make choices as a money influenced person of a particular profession (teacher, rancher, banker, lawyer, doctor, etc.)?

Or do you make choices as a Christian influenced child of God?

Further Reading:


4 thoughts on “How to make better decisions.

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