~ Article written by L. Michael Hall PhD ~

In some decisions you are lucky- very lucky.

To discover this think about a decision that you made which turned out really great. In fact, repeat this several times reflecting on different decisions that you made that as you look back on that decision today, you consider that it was a really great decision. Perhaps you made a decision about a stock or some investment, and it just so turned out to be a winning one. Perhaps you chose a certain College and it was there that you became friends with a certain person who has become your best friend and that friendship has lasted decades. Perhaps the house you bought happened to be in an area that has been booming economically and it has increased in value 20 to 40 percent a year.
If you did that exercise, you undoubtedly feel good. And that’s good. It did turn out very well. Yet just because it turned out well does not mean that it was a great decision. So here’s the bad news-from that one or more experience of great results, you still do not know how to make a great decision.

Results alone do not define a “great decision.”

What you do know is that on those occasions, things turned out great. It means that the decision you made just so happened to result in wonderful things for you. You got great results, but that is not the same as a great decision. Decisions that result in great results could have been flukes, accidents, luck. There’s no way to replicate the decision, because the key was not the decision itself. An old verse in the book of Ecclesiastes speaks to this:
“I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.”
(Ecclesiastes 9:11)

Here’s what it takes for a great decision

A truly great decision is one that is based on clear thinking, thorough examination of facts, good information gathering, high quality of reflection, perhaps consulting with others to avoid delusion, etc. Given this, great decisions typically, usually lead to great results. But even then, not always. You could make a great decision on your part and then something beyond your control could mess it up.

Ah, decisions!

Have you ever said about a decision, “If I had thought about it, really thought about it, I would not have done that!” This speaks about a decision gone wrong. It did not get great results, it produced poor results. Conversely, if you ever said, “I can’t believe the way things turned out! I was really lucky.” Well, that’s a decision gone right- in spite of you! When a decision just so happens to have turned out great- that’s luck. That’s happen-chance. That’s the luck of the draw. It just happened to turn out that way, it could have turned out for the worse.
That’s a lucky decision. Be glad, but don’t depend on it.

Sad Endings

The problem even with lucky decisions is that sometimes they have sad endings. This often happens to those who win the lottery. The decision to buy the lottery ticket at a given time and the decision to use certain numbers- all of that is just luck. That’s why your strategy (i.e., the way you did that) can’t be replicated so as to reproduce those results over and over. It is why the decision that led to that great result is not followed up with a series of great decisions and why most lottery winners- five years later look up the win as one of the worst things that happen to them. They were not ready. They did not know how to handle the money and all of the problems it brought. They were lucky in winning the money, they were not lucky in all of the decisions that they have to make in handling the money effectively.

Trusting Decisions

The danger with a lucky decision is trusting it or trusting yourself to have more lucky decisions. That idea is not a good one. What is a good idea is learning how to gather high quality information, setting conscious criteria for your decisions, and checking with others for potential blind spots.
While you cannot count on luck, you can count on creating and working an intelligent decision-making strategy.

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