The Munger Two Step

While most of us make decisions daily, few of us have a useful framework for thinking that protects us when making decisions. We’re going to explore Munger’s two-step process for making effective decisions and reducing human misjudgment.

~ from Farnam Street, https://fs.blog/2013/04/munger-two-step/

Some day I hope to write something as useful at the post I’ve linked to above. I do not hold hope for ever writing anything as directly useful as what Munger had to say, quoted and referred to in the post linked above.

There’s so much wisdom—how to make decisions without losing your shit is life-critical… right up there with knowing how to breath… There’s so much wisdown in that post about predictions and unknown-unknowns and making decisions with uncertain information.

Also, in the realm of unknown-unknowns: I’m sure you believe you know how to breath. Pop quiz: Take a pause and imagine you’re giving a lecture to a bunch of aliens who breath through gills… I’ll wait. How’d you do? Still 100% certain you know how to breath?

I’m not trying to preach to you about, “you don’t know how to breath!” I’m trying to show you—by asking rhetorically about something you certainly do a lot—that “knowing” is really hard.

And all of your deciding stands atop your knowing.

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Thoughtfully giving and receiving decisions

Decision fatigue is a well-known effect. I’ve long since learned to be mindful of when I am going to encounter this, and to take steps to avoid or reduce it. There’s a paradox where I used to want the option to make decisions, while not having the energy to make good decisions.

Also long ago, I started intentionally reigning in the urge to have an opinion when a decision is available. I now think, “do I want to have an opinion on this?” and I try to steer myself towards, “no.” There are countless examples, but they most often fall into, what I’ll call, refinements. This is when something is happening, and it is happening because I’m following someone’s lead. Our culture encourages that leader to solicit opinions; I’m presented a dinner invitation, but asked, “where would you like to eat?” These refinements come in a huge variety, but usually, that leader had an idea in mind when they set the ball rolling. These days, whenever I can, I don’t add an opinion to the mix.

I’ve gotten really good at not having an opinion. In fact, I’ve realized this is now a problem. Everyone is so used to people complaining—about everything; the movie, the food, the traffic—that they assume I too am going to complain later, after going along with their choice.

Each of us needs to practice giving the gift of making thoughtful choices for others. Each of us needs to practice accepting those gifts graciously, (up front, and during and after without complaint.)

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