How We Make Decisions

Cybernetics is the science of communications and automatic control systems.  In a recent article, I mentioned Maxwell Maltz’ idea about psycho-cybernetics and how a change in self image changes behaviour.

There is a connection to planning and it follows from that self-image idea.  It works like this:

Every plan has an internal part and an external part.  Neither are completely and correctly known.  You map external reality onto your internal idea of reality.  If your recognition of the external reality is wrong or your internal ideas are incomplete, you will tend to make mistakes and sometimes they surprise you.  If you change how you look at the world, you will change what you see there.

Your idea of the observed circumstance is stored in memory as “truth.”  The automatic response is based on that “truth” and that automatic response is often wrong, because the “truth” was too narrow or too situational.  It is a Mark Twain idea:

“If a cat sits on a hot stove, that cat won’t sit on a hot stove again. That cat won’t sit on a cold stove either. That cat just don’t like stoves.”

It pays to remain open to the idea that your “truth” is too specific and may not have general application.

You can adjust your truth.

Your brain occasionally recalls the memory and if internal context or external context have changed, and it knows about it, it will change the memory and store it back for the next time you need it.  It will not be the same memory.

Revisit older decisions.  What was right for you at the previous time may no longer be your best choice.  Your situation or the external tool may have changed enough that it is worth changing your decision.  This rebuilding of your specific “truth” is why you need to keep seeking more information and be willing to change some of your internal reality.

That revisiting and relearning is how you manipulate what you know and believe, to better optimize your life.

I believe that knowing nothing is better than knowing something that is wrong.  When you know nothing, you can occasionally be right by accident.  Not so much when you start with an error.

Each person is unique on how they map external reality onto their internal reality.  External tends to be objective and common to everyone, but internal tends to be made up of conflicted and sometime missing elements.   People resolve these in the short run by their decisions around priorities.

If you know some things are missing, you study or seek advice.  That won’t solve all problems with a bad fit.  Sometimes you must attack internal beliefs too.  Look for how you came to believe.  Received wisdom may be true for the person who informed you but not necessarily true for you.

Success evolves.  Experience teaches.  It goes on forever.  Don’t despair.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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