We are told we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. I wonder if this is due to the “decisive moment” effect. These moments are burned into our psyche, our souls till the day we die. The attached emotions are overwhelming and always dominant how we see these moments.
However, I often ask myself are ‘decisive moments’ the most important moments from which we should learn? Just because we realise the outcome at that specific moment, should or are they be the most educational moments?
The decisive moments appear to encapsulate just one decision, when in fact, it represents an interminable series of interlocking and overlapping decisions. No decision, imho, stands alone. Like the steps of a journey, the journey cannot exist without the first step, each subsequent step and of course, the last step. Each step holds information, emotions, achievement, deferred options not taken. Each step relies on and is influenced by every step before. There is the immediate impact of the previous step, the Precursory Influence and the total impact of al the previous steps, the Collective Influence.
Only by looking back on the journey can the pivotal steps be recognised and understood. The most pivotal step may not be the last. So, it is with decisive moments demanding decisive decisions. By this logic, the decisive moment is not the one that reveals some outcome or weighty or surprising information, jaw dropping conclusion. The most pivotal decision is that one that stands above all the rest. That one decision that has the greatest effect than all the others.
Great rewards have come my way by ignoring the ‘revealing’ decisive moment and finding the ‘determinant’ decisive moment. The actual moment that was pivotal in starting the succession of decisions that either ended in joy or sorrow, victory or defeat. To discover what was a seemingly innocuous, insignificant choice that became irrevocable but in reality was the most important moment or decision of all.
Boyd’s OODA loop assumes you keep making the right decisions, but one minor or inferior decision and you will loop off in the wrong direction. If the pilot survives, it will serve him well to find that inferior decision and make sure it is not repeated.
In a 500-decision link, the early links, decision 1-499 impact on the potency of all the decisions that follow. Right decisions will increase the potency and incorrect decisions will impoverish the potency of all the decisions that come after it. Sun Tzu refers to this as ‘combined energy.’ His dynamic is ‘combined energy.’ Picking out the right men for the right positions thereby utilizing and increasing the combined energy of these men and their qualities. Sun Tzu says that by doing so, you will not require too much from individuals. Sun Tzu says this of men, I believe this dynamic is even more important when applied to making decisions. If you make small correct decisions, you decrease the possibility of having to rely on one “big” decision. Instead of having to make one “big” decision, you will prosper on the combined energy of all the smaller correct decisions. Mistakes will not be so damaging but then on the other side, there will never be any parade for a correct ‘big’ decision. This is the way of the “Quiet Achiever.” Those who seem to sail effortlessly and yet successfully in life without any outward drama. They seem to have all the luck as there is nothing to really point to, in order to explain their successes.
The point of no return makes great experiences in movies, books, and storytelling in general. But is it the point where the greatest lessons are learned? Due to my experiences, I think not. What do you think? What does your experience tell you?
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