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Why You Make Bad Decisions

Posted by on January 13, 2010 at 10:15 am.

Blog - DecisionsCouple of years ago, I was a member of a conquering horde that overran another company. Or so I thought. In reality, it was the other firm that had in fact taken us over. I found this out in the simplest way possible: Every single one of my friends was heaved out the door.

The environment grew hostile — quickly — and I became fixated on the new enemies walking our hallways. But I was looking at the whole thing wrong. I was focusing on all the bad guys instead of the one good guy who might come to my assistance. Michael. He and I had never worked closely together, but we were chummy, and I realized he still had a lot of power in the infrastructure. In fact, he’d just been promoted.

The next day I dropped by Mike’s office and pitched him the biggest job I could think of. He probably thought I was incredibly presumptuous and kind of nuts, as indeed I sometimes am. But I got the job. There’s no question I would have been dead meat if I hadn’t looked at the bad situation in a completely different way. Sometimes a new viewpoint is the only solution to what seems like an impossible problem. The good news is that I can provide five new ways of looking at things that you might not have tried yet. Let’s find some hidden solutions.

Problem: The deadly threat down the hall
Larry is a very nice fellow, and very professional. Except for the fact that he’s a thumb-sucking worm. He hates you. You hate him. The problem is, you both have the same job description, pretty much. You both report to the same person, and the core demand of the job is, Make Bob happy. But every time Larry meets with Bob, you suspect he’s undermining you. When you float a plan or a project, Bob occasionally seems to have arguments against it that he couldn’t possibly have come up with by himself. He was coached. It was Larry. Larry must die. And yet he does not die.

Your new view: Strategic x-ray vision Once again, you can accomplish very little by simply gazing at this situation in the face. When you do, it melts away amid denial and hypocritical smiles. I know men who’ve detested each other for years but still attend the same meetings, smiling at each other and asking about each other’s kids. But in private, it’s trash talk. You need to develop the kind of vision that cuts through all that. Superman had it. It enabled him to find wherever bad guys were lurking and do whatever it was he was supposed to do. You can do it too. You can see through office walls and detect Larry sowing the seeds of doubt and discord. You can ascertain what kind of game he’s playing even when he’s far, far away. He is never out of your sight except when he’s actually in the same room with you. Then, of course, he’s opaque as hell. That’s okay. You know what he’s up to — and knowledge, as always, is power. And when the time is right, you’re going to use your special vision to burn through the floor and send him crashing into the basement. Hypocrisy and politics go only so far, you know.

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