How to find the right solutions

It is often difficult to make the right decision and make a choice from the existing options. A few tips for thinking that will help you find the right solutions.

Finding a solution

To break out of a narrow box, we need options, and one of the main ways to get them is to look for someone who has already solved your problem. If you don't know how to deal with a relative who has alcoholism, talk to someone who has experienced a similar situation (which is why there are Alcoholics Anonymous groups). If you are unfamiliar with the process of applying for a grant to start a foundation, talk to someone who has already done so. Listen to someone who has rich experience.

Narrow Bounds

Another great technique that can be used to break out of narrow boxes is the Extinction Test. Imagine that Aladdin's genie has an eccentric older brother who, instead of granting a person three wishes, randomly selects options. Below we give you a general form of the vanishing options test that you can adapt to your own situation:

You cannot choose any of the current options you are considering. What else can you do?

Thus, our eccentric genie, who at first glance seems cruel - he took our options! - Really kind and smart. Removing options can benefit people because it makes them pay attention: they're stuck in one small patch of a wide landscape.

Balance of confidence

Overconfidence about the future undermines our decisions. We are inactively preparing for problems. We are tempted to ignore the early signs of failure. We are not prepared for unpleasant surprises.

Fighting overconfidence means that we must view the future as a spectrum, not as a point.

Creating extreme futures means we have to move our spotlights from side to side and map the whole area. We can then push the course of events towards the desired outcome by preparing for both bad and good situations.

Opportunity costs

Often we cannot look at a problem from different angles. Unfortunately, the neglect of opportunity cost is so common that when someone considers it, we are shocked.

In this sense, the speech of Dwight Eisenhower, a former candidate for the presidency of the Republican Party and who became president, is indicative. In 1953, a few months after taking office for his first term, he declared: “The price of one modern heavy bomber is equal to the following: all modern brick schools in more than 30 cities; two power plants, each of which can serve a city with a population of 60,000 people. Two excellent, fully equipped hospitals. About 80 kilometers of concrete highway. For one fighter we pay half a million bushels of wheat. We pay for one destroyer with new houses that could accommodate more than 8,000 people.”

How much better would our decisions be if more people shared Eisenhower's willingness to consider opportunity cost?

What if we started each decision by asking a few simple questions: What are we giving up by making this choice?

Based on the materials of the book “Traps of Thinking”.