As a chess player, I like to think that I know how to make good decisions. After all, the game teaches you how to think logically and methodically. But that’s not how decision making works in the real world. Annie Duke explains this in her book, Thinking in Bets:
We often decide whether a decision is good or not based on its outcome. It’s what poker players call “resulting”.
One reason is because we tend to overestimate the impact of our decisions and actions. In our minds, what we get is a result of what we do.
That sounds reasonable. But as we’ve seen, good outcomes are possible even when we make bad decisions, and vice-versa.
Making good decisions certainly increases the chances of a good outcome; it doesn’t guarantee it. You could make the best possible play at every point in the game and still lose. Similarly, you could make the worst plays and still win.This is where the paradigm shift comes in — all decisions are bets
Sometimes, the uncertainty bites at us, and we forgo making a decision,
As humans, we strive for internal psychological consistency in order to mentally function in a complex world. This leads us to reject information that runs contradictory to what we believe.
The smarter you are, the better you are at constructing a narrative that supports your beliefs, rationalizing and framing the data to fit your argument or point of view. After all, people in the “spin room” in a political setting are generally pretty smart for a reason.”
You don’t always get the outcome you want even when you make the best decision. Even if you get a positive outcome, it’s difficult to tell if you deserve credit. There’s a double layer of complexity.In many ways, life is one long poker game.
All we can do is learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and keep making good bets.