Decide with Calculated Courage

This Week’s Focus Point

Courage – a word that inspires thoughts of valiant knights facing fearsome dragons and superheroes  facing off against a galatic super-villians.

But, how often do we consider more everyday uses of courage?

A new job or important client interview,
Being vulnerable in emotional moments,
Sharing your creativity or taking initiative.

What about courage in your decision making? How often do you seek the more aspirational vision? The larger goals?

This week, I will share with you a little mathematically based model to help you have greater confidence in your next moment of courage.

It’s called the Look Then Leap rule – coined by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths in their book Algorithms to Live By. The rule is simple:

If you know how long you have to make a decision – you should investigate, watch and gather data for 37% of the available time. During this first ‘Look’ phase, you establish a set of acceptance criteria based on what you are seeing. After this 37% period, you then jump on the first option that exceeds your determined criteria.

i.e. Look Then Leap!

There some interesting maths behind it, and that is covered in greater explanation in their book. The ultimate result is that you have are notably higher chance of choosing the best option using this rule.

So what does this look like in practice?
The common example is the evaluation of candidates for recruitment. You have 10 to choose from, you interview 3-4 during the look phase, then hire the first one after that that exceeds the skill levels of those you saw in the look phase.

Of course, this isn’t all that pragmatic in real life. You can interview 10 then choose who you think is the best.

So I’d like to suggest a different use of the rule. One that’s a lttle less mechanical, and that will cut your decision making time by up to 60%!

Introducing: Calculated Courage.

In your everday decision making, i.e. meetings, workshops, etc. where a decision is required – spend roughly a third of the allocated time exploring options. During this time eliminate obviously terrible ideas and establish a small group of good ideas. The parameters you use here are dependent on what decision you need to make. This is your dedicated ‘Look’ time.

Then once the Look time is done, consider which of the decisions creates the most fear (remember you are only looking at the good options), and select it.

60% faster.

This can of course be extrapolated out to investigatory projects, and other areas of organisational innovation.

Fear is a useful barometer of direction you should head. Back this with dedicated consideration time, and you are onto something. We could all use a little more courage in our lives.

Your Weekly Challenge

This week:

Try it – test out the calculated courage decision making method next time you have a decision that needs to be made.

Then watch and see what happens. You may find that:
– Your average decision consideration time is cut by 60%.
– Your staff motivation increases (scarier things are also more exciting).
– Your decision created new organisational energy.

As always, email me with your thoughts and findings. I would love to help.

This Week’s Thought Pulses

Leadership & Performance

‘Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.’
– Maya Angelou

Momentum & Energy

Ruts, monotony and eternal safe zones destroy organisational energy.
Have courage, push into fear, watch excitement come back.

Delivery & Oversight

Projects that spend longer than 37% of their time planning are taking too long.


New Free Resources!: 30 new ideas to maximise your people, processes and projects that you aren’t already doing! Find them on my resources page here.