While not intentional, the book I finished this past week went hand in hand with Intuition. We need to be able to trust our intuition when we do not have the luxury of time, but when we have at least 5 minutes to make a decision that is where Decisive comes in. Another excellent book following Made to Stick and Switch from the Heath Brothers, Decisive offers quick and sound advice on how we can make better decisions. Certainly making great choices and decisions is a vital part of performance excellence, and as usual the Heaths offer a pragmatic approach simplified to WRAP: Widen your options, Reality-test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, and Prepare to be wrong.

Amongst much useful advice, I found two ideas particularly salient to performance. The first has to do with widening your options and understanding how we normally make decisions. The Heaths demonstrate that our decisions usually come down to whether or not to do one thing. Some examples would be whether or not to…continue my relationship, start a new training plan, give up on my dream, etc. What they found is that when you can add one additional choice, you are 6 times more likely to make a good decision. This can be as simple as thinking “and” rather than “or.” What whether or not decisions are you considering? Can you add one more (realistic) option by thinking creatively?

The other idea that could immediately impact your performance is to reality test your assumptions. The great example here was in selecting members for a 4 X 100 relay team. Would you rather put the potential sprinters on the track and see how they perform together or sit them in a room and see if they answer your questions like a good relay runner would? Seems laughable, but which method is more similar to your process of making personnel decisions? There are many ways this idea can influence performance in addition to people choices. When you are considering particular strategies or tactics, can you find a way to reality test them? Can you find a way to invest a little into a decision before you have to invest a lot?

If you are interested in making better decisions during the Performance of Your Life, give Decisive a read.


Inspiration: Perspiration

There are times all of us feel something less than inspired. During these times, we often wait for inspiration to find us. There are two problems with this: 1) it draws our attention to external sources, and 2) while we wait we miss out on lots of opportunities to create inspiration.

Regarding the first point, as discussed earlier, inspiration comes from personal values, purpose, and meaning. Values are choices we make about the life we want to live. While they may be influenced by external sources, ultimately it is an internal process of deciding what we want our lives to stand for. This is why the energy and positive feelings that come from motivational speakers tend to be so fleeting: they are not connected to values, and if they are it is not our values, but rather those of the speaker. So, the next time you are waiting for inspiration, look internally about what you value and who you would like to be.

And after you do that, do something about it! We miss out on opportunities to be inspired by feeling trapped by our jobs, our relationships, our circumstances, etc. While all of these things may make it more difficult to pursue our dreams, they seldom (if ever) make it impossible to do so. Building on the concept of Have Fun First, rather than waiting for inspiration start doing something that you enjoy. For example, if you are working a job that pays well, supports your family, but does not leave you fulfilled, set aside time to pursue something you enjoy. Many a successful career has started as a trivial hobby.

Wondering where you will find the time? How about starting with the time you spend saying how much you dislike your job? Most people find when they start putting time and energy into something they enjoy, they find they have more time and energy to be present with family and other important aspects of their life.

By doing more, working harder at something you enjoy, and having fun, you’ll discover your inspiration.