Powerful decision-making questions


When it comes to making a decision, your brain lights up like a Christmas tree as it tries to figure out the issue at hand and devise a plan of action. This can be time consuming and mentally draining depending on how big the decision is.

Thanks to a couple decision-making coaches of mine, Chip & Dan Heath, here are a few questions you can ask when faced with a BIG decision:

1) What would your best friend tell you to do?
2) If you only had 10 more years to live, what would you do?
3) If someone came into the same position you’re in, what would their first reaction be?
4) What would happen if the decision you make goes wrong and how far along would you let it go before you change course?
5) What would happen if the decision you make goes perfectly well?

Seeing as I have moved across the country a couple of times and have had to make quite a few life changing decisions, here’s how I used one of the questions above to figure out what I should do.

When I was living in Halifax an opportunity came up for me to move west and closer to home. It was tough because my head office was based out of Dartmouth (across from Halifax, if I said it was in Halifax, people from Dartmouth would probably kill me) and I would be moving across the majority of the country to plant roots in Calgary. It was a tough decision…leave a job, team and friends I really came to love and pack up my family and move across the country…again.

I was mulling over this decision (with the help of my family) for months. Then I asked myself, “What would my best buddy Blair tell me to do?” I instantly knew what I was going to do. Blair would’ve said, “Move you big dummy.” So, I moved and now I’m happily set up with my family in Calgary although I still miss my friends in Halifax.

On a business level, I found some of the above questions to be very powerful. Within the first week I moved to Calgary the team was faced with a HUGE decision that would affect close to a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

I asked, “If we were all fired today and a new team replaced us, what would they do?”

The team’s eyes lit up and instantly rendered a decision. It was magical. A quarter-of-a million-dollar decision was made in the equivalent of you snapping your fingers. All based off one, seemingly simple question.

As you can tell, questions are extremely powerful. The tough part is figuring out which questions to ask. I hope the questions above help you in your decision-making process.

Discover more questions by visiting Chip & Dan’s site and ordering their books. All of them are great. They have helped shape my colleagues and my career. I’m sure they’ll help you too.



Be a better decision-maker

What do President Obama, Nick Saban & Baz Luhrmann have in common (if you don’t know who they are ‘Google’ them)? Aside from being men, they all make BIG decisions. Obama makes decisions every single day that effect the world. Nick Saban makes decisions that effect the outcomes of college football games (a very profitable world). Baz Luhrmann stresses over every single minute detail of film making to ensure he’s putting out the best product possible (his lastest movie The Great Gatsby took over 5 years to make). Exhausting!

So, how are these guys able to make decisions? Let’s dive into their world to find out.

President Obama pretty much wears the same thing every day. His look includes a dark suit, white shirt and a blue tie (occasionally he switches up the tie). He wears this every single day (click here for Obama style). Why? He doesn’t want to figure out what to put on every morning as it’s a waste of decision-making power (more on this later).

Nick Saban is the greatest present day college football coach. The dude is a winning machine and he’s also a machine when it comes to decision-making. His day is painstakingly planned out, so much so, he eats the same thing every day. From GQ Magazine:

“He doesn’t drink. For breakfast, he eats two Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies; for lunch, a salad of iceberg lettuce, turkey, and tomatoes. The regular menu, he says, saves him the time of deciding what to eat each day, and speaks to a broader tendency to habituate his behaviours.”

The less decisions Saban makes during the day, the more decision-making power he’ll have for game day.

Baz Luhrmann is one of the most creative and forward thinking directors out there. How does he bottle this creativity? By making his day-to-day activities habits. For example: he and his wife own residences in Australia (their home country) and New York. Baz’s closets and dressers in both residences are exactly the same, so no matter where he’s staying, he knows where his socks, shoes, shirts, pants, etc… are. His clothes are even laid out in the exact same way and in the same drawers. This instantly limits his “What should I wear?” decision-making. Along with, “Where the hell is my underwear?” Plus, each and every Saturday night he and his wife stay in a hotel and shutter the outside world. This is where he recharges his batteries to enhance his creativity and decision-making (great article on Baz here…beware it’s long).

Decision-making power

Imagine your left and right brain as if they were gas tanks. When you wake up, there’s only so much in the tank. The more decisions you have to make, the more those tanks go down. On one side it’s the creative decision-making. On the other side it’s the analytical decision-making. Funny thing is, once you wear down one side the other side is shot too. That’s why BIG TIME decision-makers try to automate and habituate their day-to-day schedules relentlessly. I know of one former senior VP in the company I work with who ate at Earls every single day for lunch. EVERY SINGLE DAY! This eliminated, “What should I have for lunch?” Thus, enabling him to effectively use his decision-making power elsewhere.

Me – I like to map out my day in advance. Every night at 9pm I have a notification pop up on my phone reminding me to figure out the next day. I’ll plan what I’m wearing (I have a limited wardrobe), my hourly schedule (Hello, Outlook and Google Calendar) and what I’m going to have for lunch (amongst other things). This helps me stay fresh while enhancing my decision-making power for the day-to-come.

What are you doing to enhance your decision-making power?

You could say eating the same thing or wearing the same thing every day is boring and there’s no way you could do that. I’m not saying you should do exactly what Obama, Saban & Luhrmann are doing. I’m asking you to find events in your day-to-day life that you can make routine. Thus, enabling you to use more of the fuel in your decision-making tank for IMPORTANT things. Not meaningless things like, “What socks should I wear?”

In the coming weeks I’ll outline more tactics you can use to make yourself a better decision-maker. It will change your life and make you $$$$$$$. I’d also like to give a shout out to Chip & Dan Heath who, with their guidance, have made me a better and stronger decision-maker. I suggest you pick up all their books. DO IT!

– Jordan