Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work is by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. If you read business books, you might be familiar with their other books, Made to Stick and Switch. The format is similar. Speaking of format, I started with the Kindle version but quickly remembered I’m supposed to be listening to these books. I got the audiobook and listened to it over a few days during some very long walks.
Decisive describes decision-making techniques, explains the research behind it, and has many anecdotes showing how it can be applied. People sometimes get annoyed with books filled with stories. Stories help get the point across. If stories weren’t useful, novels wouldn’t exist and we’d only be reading Cliff Notes and $0.99 self-published eBook summaries.
One story that resonated is one of the simpler ones. (Simple story for a simple mind.) A guy is deciding between speaker systems and one is $300 more than the other. The salesman says, hey, what if you got the cheaper one and instead bought $300 of albums? Option C is something the customer never considered.
We don’t consider alternatives all the time. Particularly when comparing two options. He probably went with option D: higher quality speakers and pirated music.
I read Decisive to help in my quest to improve my focus. I want to be better about deciding what to focus on. It didn’t unlock anything major for me immediately. It’s given me some ideas though and I need to apply what I learned. When weighing future decisions, I’ll try actively viewing them from a distance or some other perspective.
Back to my decision to switch from eBook to audiobook. What would option C look like?
- Buying both: I’ve done this a few times thinking I would jump back and forth listening and reading. Or listen to it then review my notes in the Kindle version. It hardly pans out that way.
- Buying neither: For some books, if you really just want to avoid story upon story, there’s probably a TED talk. Authors also usually do the rounds on different podcasts. It could be worth searching for their appearances to get a sense of what the content will be like.
Would I rather have listened to Decisive or hours podcasts instead? I’d wager that I learned more from this. The podcasts would be more entertaining. Is learning more important than entertainment? There’s your answer.
That would’ve been a great, snooty way to say “of course learning is more important”. What I mean is: it depends. For me, learning is for morning and entertainment is for night when I need to wind down. Audiobooks for the morning commute and podcasts for the evening commute.
A few weeks ago, I finished The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis’s book about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The duo inspired so much of today’s business and self-development books with their published work about decision making.
Decisive is part of the writing inspired by Kahneman and Tversky’s work. Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow referred to at the start of the book and one of the first suggested readings at the end of the book. It’s about time I move Thinking, Fast and Slow up my book queue. Long overdo.