As individuals in the developed world, we each make around 30,000 decisions per day, according to fellow author and keynote speaker Michael Veltri. Ranging from small choices such as which hand to use when grabbing a napkin, to much larger ones such as how to draft a proposal to win that big new client, the choices we make dictate the outcomes we enjoy. Each of our lives is comprised of the thousands of decisions we’ve made over the years, with our success being determined by the combination of these selections. Simply put, we are what we choose.
Unfortunately, there are too many traps that lead our decision-making astray. Conscious and unconscious biases can lure us into making unproductive – or even destructive – choices. According to decision-making expert Veltri, even a small percentage of improvement in overall choices can yield gigantic gains in our lives. To do this, he’s uncovered a number of traps and their corresponding solutions.
Reading his fascinating findings, my favorite is The Ferris Bueller Trap. We all remember the delightful movie in which Bueller threw caution to the wind and followed his every impulse, regardless of the consequences. He had the day of his life to be sure, but presumably the aftermath wasn’t nearly as pleasant. To a degree, we all have an inner Ferris Bueller. That untamable spirit who wants to savor every moment and live on the edge.
In contrast to freewheeling Ferris, we also have an inner Dr. Spock: the pointy-eared, uber-logical Star Trek character with impeccable reasoning but no sense of humor. Given any choice, Bueller would take the impulsive, pleasure-seeking route while Spock would take the safer, yet perhaps overly conservative and less-fun option.
Back to decision-making, we can easily fall victim to making bad choices when we over-emphasize Bueller over Spock, or vice versa. Like the mythical shoulder angel and shoulder devil whispering in our ears, these two contrasting voices must be balanced when making our most important decisions. Prioritize one over the other, and you find yourself falling victim to the trap.
The next time you face a decision – big or small – first ask what the living large Ferris Bueller would do. Next, consider the logic and reason of the encyclopedic yet robotic Dr. Spock. When you carefully consider each perspective and look for balance, you end up making better choices and in turn, living a better life.
While I’m not sure who would win in a boxing match, both can help you win in your own endeavors. Embrace the powerful perspectives of both characters in order to find balance and achieve better results.
Anything less would be illogical.