Attain Distance Before Deciding
“The goal of the WRAP process is not to neutralize emotion. When you strip away all the rational mechanics…what’s left at the core is emotion. What drives you? What do you believe is best…Those are emotional questions – speaking to passions and values and beliefs.” (pg 179)
“In theory, this should be the climax of the book, the part where we come to a fork in the road and make the right choice. Actually, we believe this section may be the least important of the four [because] many decisions don’t really have a “choice” stage. Also, you can usually break the logjam on a tough decision by unearthing some new options or some new information. …Occasionally though, we’ll encounter a truly tough choice [and] blinded by the particulars of the situation, we’ll waffle and agonize, changing our mind from day to day.” (pg 159-160)
1. If emotions are intense, use 10/10/10: a tool invented by Suzy Welch, journalist for Bloomberg Businessweek and O magazine. Think about your decision on three timeframes: How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How about 10 years from now? Conducting this analysis doesn’t presuppose that the long-term perspective is the right one. It simply ensures that short-term emotion isn’t the only voice at the table. (pg 163)
2. If emotions are subtle, look at your situation from an observer’s perspective. Mere exposure (the most familiar option) and loss aversion (humans feel losses are more painful than gains are pleasant) will cause us to choose the status quo. To overcome this:
- Andy Grove would ask, “What would my successor choose?” (pg 167)
- Another powerful question is, “What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?” Our advice to others tends to hinge on the most important factor. (pg 171)
3. When choosing between two great options, it is usually due to a conflict among “core priorities”.
- People rarely establish priorities until they’re forced to. Identify and enshrine your core priorities, not just generic values. (Example: a cleft-palate repair NGO had to decide if they wanted to do more surgeries for kids vs. give give medical professionals an opportunity to serve). Write down “guardrails that are wide enough to empower but narrow enough to guide.”
- Establishing your core priorities is not the same as binding yourself to them. Test your success by preparing (annually or more often) a “stop-doing” list. Set an hourly alarm and ask, “Am I doing what I most need to be doing right now?” List actions that are important but not mission-critical; then find ways to simplify and overcome these.