In their book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip and Dan Heath tackle the topic of making better choices. The book is research based and might sound dry, but it is an entertaining read that teaches us how to make better decisions. The first chapter* starts with a short three paragraph scenario outlining a decision faced by the head of a small consulting firm. The question “should she fire Clive” is in the first sentence, and the short paragraphs outline the situation. If you are like most people, when faced with the question in the third paragraph “What would you advise her to do?” you have an answer, or at least an opinion!
Then, if you step back and reflect (as they invite you to do), you will realize that you were willing to give advice based on extremely limited information contained within a few words (under 200**). We all do this. We take a bit of information, we form an opinion, and we make decisions. The Heath brothers then use this as a jumping off point to discuss how we make decisions. They introduce the work of Daniel Kahneman who identifies that we jump to conclusions because we give too much weight to the information that’s right in front of us. The Heaths draw a parallel to the theater where the spotlight only shows us a portion of the stage, and nothing outside of that light. We make decisions based on what is in our spotlight.
Think about that spotlight, or because I like the movie theme, what if we think of life as having camera angles? We are incredibly prone to seeing only the accessible information; the information that is in our current camera angle. What if you didn’t stop there? What if you thought of your decision as a scene in a movie, and decided to widen the camera angle? As we know, when the camera pans back you see a great deal more. Suddenly your life scene has more information.
That’s one of the Heath’s key recommendations; you need to Widen the Angle (obviously their book has more to lead to that recommendation). For all of us, what if we kept that in mind in life? When we have a decision to make, when we are asked for advice, or even when we are upset over something; what if you let the camera pull back and widen the angle? Perhaps you will see information that changes the scene, and informs how you proceed.
*You can read the first chapter of the book if you click the link
**As context, this post has over 400 words