Decision-making holds an inherent trap. We all want to make the right decision. But fear of making the wrong one can paralyze us into inaction. As Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “In any moment of a decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Sometimes, right and wrong decisions don’t exist. Rather, the decisive person has weighed the options carefully. From there, they have garnered the resources—and the resolve—to deal with any consequences, both good and bad.
For many of us, it’s not always that easy. That is why we have assembled a list of 5 excellent books to guide you in becoming more confident and decisive.
By Ray Dalio
This 2017 standard for success became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller for good reason. For one, author Dalio has the background and reputation to make him worth listening to. Founder of Bridgewater Associates, he also serves as a key voice in philanthropic endeavors.
But Principles is not a biography. Instead, Dalio draws upon his experience to provide practical lessons in decision-making. A key component of Dalio’s advice lies in what he terms “believability-weighted decision making.” That is, weighing more heavily the opinions of colleagues based on past success and ability to explain their rationale. And although this approach to decision-making is highly systematic, Dalio’s work serves as an engaging read that has helped millions.
By Dr. Pippa Grange
Sometimes, the difficulty in making a smart decision boils down to fear. Fears, both known and hidden, frequently lead to inaction. That may be fear of judgment by others or even fear of your own self-criticism.
Published in June 2021, Fear Less is a followup to Grange’s 2020 book, Fear Less: How to Win at Life Without Losing Yourself. Grange’s background as a sports psychologist and culture coach allows her to speak with both authority and compassion. She traces more than the sources of our anxiety that lead to inaction. She also provides practical tools to overcome those fears and move to a happier, more decisive life.
“If you can shrink the effects of fear,” says Dr. Grange, “your life will be transformed.”
With a history of success, Pippa Grange guides you personally and sympathetically through the process.
By Mark Koscinski
When it comes to helping others with decision-making, author Koscinski has made a career of it. In fact, he teaches a graduate course called Decision Analysis at Moravian College. Koscinski breaks down complex topics into easily understood components with pedagogical skill. He has designed this book to assist managers and other leaders understand methods of analysis to grapple with decisions ranging from the simple to the most difficult in any industry. Topics include: Scenario Planning and Prediction Markets, Group Mechanics, Heuristics and Programmed decisions, and more.
Designed as a textbook with practice examples, Decision Making Essentials stands on its own in any collection. But it is part of the Self-Learning Management Series, and further titles are worth browsing.
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Advice comes from all quarters in our daily lives. Parents, colleagues, and even strangers always have something to say. The hard part comes in filtering out good advice from bad. That is where Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive comes in. Based on numerous surveys and peer-reviewed studies, the Heaths take care in understanding the data and science of indecision and decision-making. That is not to say their work lacks utility. On the contrary, they look at the basics of decisiveness without baseless platitudes.
“Being decisive isn’t about making the perfect decision every time,” say Chip and Dan Heath. “That isn’t possible. Rather, it’s about being confident that we’ve considered the right things, that we’ve used a smart process.”
If you seek a pragmatic approach to decision-making—including how to cope with results from “wrong” decisions, Decisive may be just the book for you.
By Sebastian O’Brien
For many, indecision boils down to one element: overthinking. That is, it may not be data-gathering that freezes you in your tracks, or even the paralysis of fear. Some people simply never stop weighing options. If this sounds familiar, Stop Overthinking may be the only book you need.
Author Sebastian O’Brien offers tips and techniques to overcome the inner voice that prevents you from focusing on the present. Meditation strategies, for instance, play a role. As do researched methods of overcoming procrastination and other hurdles.
“Ultimately, I will show you how to tap into a new realm of inner peace and mental clarity,” says the author. “Live in the moment, and you won’t waste it obsessing over past mistakes and future threats.”
Photo by @caitlinrheaphotos/Twenty20