Our decisions shape who we are and the reality we live in.

Don’t trust your gut

The more complex the situation, the less you should trust your intuition, which is your brain’s attempt to make decisions based on patterns it recognizes from a lifetime of experiences. Unfortunately, our brains can’t process the level of complexity around us, and our intuition can be dangerous when detached from data and analysis. In data... more

Let the best ideas win

Good ideas survive deep skepticism and intense competition. Stress-testing ideas exposes their weaknesses and highlights their strengths. Innovation happens when people are encouraged to put forward their best thinking, no matter their status, power, or tenure. I heard Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and chairman, speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. He attributed... more

Make fewer decisions

Create habits and automate decisions to save time and energy. Every decision we make throughout the day requires attention and carries an opportunity cost; thus, creating decision-making systems can make you more productive and less frazzled. Once you build a habit, you make fewer decisions. “We don’t rise to the level of our goals. We... more

Always take the red pill

Always seek out the truth even if it contradicts the beliefs you hold. Self-deceit and ignorance can harm you. In the science fiction movie The Matrix, Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne) offers Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) a blue pill and a red pill and the opportunity to understand the true nature of reality. “You... more

Build high performance teams

A group of people will be smarter and stronger than any one individual. Our prosperity has been built on this principle. Cooperation requires a common goal. Banding together to fight off predators. Hunting animals faster or stronger than you. Aligning to fight off other tribes. Born vulnerable, our ancestors were unlikely victors. Lacking the lion’s... more

Rules for decision making

Without rules we risk getting jerked like a puppet, simply reacting to conditions around us. Rules for behavior and communication allow us to work together more effectively, and rules can also help you make better decisions. Just as programming languages provide instructions for computers, decision-making rules become the operating logic of your company. Rather than... more

Taming emotion

Your emotions influence your decisions. Learning to read and regulate your emotions will help you make better choices and build better relationships. When I was nineteen, I spent four months traveling in India to learn meditation. Given the opportunity to experiment with dozens of different meditation techniques, I learned how to witness my thoughts and... more

Opportunity cost

You make dozens of decisions every day. And every decision you make has a cost. By deciding to pursue one thing, you’re saying no to something else. At work, if you decide to participate in a meeting, that timeslot is filled and you can’t spend the time focused on a creative task. You can’t do... more

A map is not the territory

Maps help guide us where we want to go. They represent the accumulation of knowledge from people who have traveled the route before you. Maps help you avoid getting lost and wasting time. But a map is not reality—just as an architectural blueprint for a building is not the building. A map is both a... more

Blind certainty

Our interpretations of the world can often be wrong due to bias, optimism, pessimism, or bad information. Yet most of us think we are right and other people are wrong. This can cause us to overlook or dismiss crucial information and lead to bad decisions. In 1847, Ignaz Semmelweis proposed doctors wash their hands before... more
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