I read an article recently which said that each of us receives up to 35,000 'bits' of information per day. From that we only register a fraction of these and an even smaller amount of conscious decisions are made.
Decision making is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom – purely because of our ability to evaluate rather than act purely on instinct.
At home, we have a cat called 'Max' who is also known on Facebook as 'Lockdown Cat'. He is the feline equivalent of a military dictator – grumpy but in an endearing way (if that is possible).
He came to us as a stray and has become a family fixture ever since. We suspect that Max had an encounter with a car prior to joining us because he tends to make poor decisions regularly.
However, if you watch him there is clear 'instinct over thinking' going on. The introduction of a laser pointer into his daily regime shows that actions and routines can be regularly interrupted and forgotten – we think the cat thinks this is fun.
Even more so if you make any kind of move towards his food box, it does not matter what he was doing at the time (including hassling our dog, another favourite pastime) he will drop everything and follow his instincts.
For us, instinct and 'gut feel' can play a role in decision making but it certainly is not the major driver.
We tend to seek out more information and make an evaluation no matter how much our 'gut' tells us that the decision ahead is a good thing or a bad thing. And even with this, together with the evaluation of pros and cons, there can also be things which are hidden or evade our frame of reference and come out after the decision is made.
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I have made several decisions which have paid off, and others which carry the designation of "what the hell was I thinking??'. Most of the latter being due to some unforeseen event or circumstance, but regardless of success or otherwise every one of them carries lessons which can be carried forward.
And that is the key, accepting responsibility for decision making and also learning from them – no matter what the circumstance which arises from them.
Some decisions can carry life changing results and the arena of sports can show this in stark relief. When a key player for the team you support suffers a significant season ending injury, it is easy to think that the terrible event could have been avoided.
Had he or she not made 'that' tackle, not turned back into the field of play, or not challenged for a 50/50 ball months of rehab and the negative impact on performance of the team could have been avoided.
However, the power in decision making is what you do with the results, good and / or bad. Staying with sports, a decision to contest a 50/50 ball effectively scuppered Liverpool's most recent season.
Virgil Van Dijk, ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament while being clobbered by an opposing player. The result of that was bad but the interesting part is that he made the decision to be positive in the face of adversity and focus on his recovery – the next opportunity.
So too it is with us and decisions – it is as much about what we do with the results as it is the process of making the decision in the first place. The absolute key is to ensure that, no matter what, we seek out the lessons from the decisions we make and don't forget them.