If You Want to Make the Wrong Decision, Ask Everyone
Asking everybody makes you a nobody.
This instalment of Unfiltered is free for everyone. I send this email weekly. If you would also like to receive it, join the 87,000+ other smart people who absolutely love it today.
👉 If you enjoy reading this post, feel free to share it with friends! Or feel free to click the ❤️ button on this post so more people can discover it on Substack 🙏
Decisions are the one thing that shapes our lives.
So it’s a skill you better get damn good at, otherwise you’re in for one giant sh*t sandwich worth of pain.
Every day I meet people who make terrible decisions. One of my friends is a classic example.
He’s currently homeless with 4 kids.
For the last 10 years he’s made bad decisions. I’ve tried to help the best I can. The challenge is, instead of getting a job, he just keeps working on get-rich-quick schemes. He’s looking for that one idea that’ll make him $100K in 30 days.
I keep telling him those ideas don’t exist.
Finally he got a 6-figure job opportunity. He turned it down. There’s another business idea brewing. Look, I hate jobs as much as the next person. But sometimes you gotta bite the rotten tomato and vomit every day for a while to heal from the poison.
This is the framework I use:
Put off hard decisions, and only make easy decisions, equals hard life.
Make hard decisions, easy life.
There’s another big problem we face with decisions
Naval Ravikant said “If you want to make the wrong decision, ask everyone.”
Just like me, he hates groupthink. We pick up this bad habit from the 9-5 world. We think we need to ask for a million people’s opinions before we make a decision.
The average person isn’t that smart though. The average person isn’t winning. Most people don’t even have $1000 in savings. So why the f*ck would you ask the majority for their opinion on your decision?
I know that’s harsh … but it’s true.
The majority is almost always wrong. They’re living in fear, drowning in comfort. They get their education from Twitter, TikTok, or politically-driven news.
It’s the same reason I didn’t ask drink drivers when I was 21 whether I was sober enough to drive. They always told me “You’ll be fine mate.”
This quote sums up group decision-making perfectly:
”Committees are a cul-de-sac where ideas are lured and then quietly strangled”
This is one of the big reasons I quit my job 2.5 years ago. Nothing happens. Everyone’s a f*cking snail riding on an even slower horse to nowhere.
No one can make a decision. No one can take a risk or back themselves.
Everyone’s just hiding from the redundancy devil, keeping their heads down, and hoping to cash next fortnight’s paycheck. Decisions at work are made out of nicety. They’re made based on how a person looks instead of the result of the decision.
“Will somebody please think of the customer?”
Joking not joking.
In agile software development it’s trendy to do “user research.” You’re supposed to ask every customer what they would like or what they’d improve.
This sounds good at a 10,000-foot view.
But as Henry Ford said, “If I’d have asked society what they wanted they would have said a faster horse, not an automobile.”
The same happened with the Apple iPhone. Consumers didn’t know they wanted a touchscreen, or an app store.
Asking everyone is how you destroy potential breakthroughs.
The question I get every day that burns a hole in my brain
Lots of people come to my email inbox with questions (which is fine).
But many of those questions are based around some existential decision a person is trying to make. And it drives me bonkers, I tell ya.
One guy said to me “I’m thinking about joining your live course, so I’m having a meeting with the board of professors at my university to ask their opinion. Then I will speak to my wife and also the neighbor who has done a lot of research about social media.
The guy sat there for 20 minutes writing me an email of all the people he was going to run his decision by.
You know who I run most decisions by? Nobody.
I take a big decision, write a pros and cons list, then decide. Once I take action I look at the results, expect screw-ups, and adjust as I move forward.
There are no perfect decisions.
The point of making decisions is to choose a path in life and walk down it to see if rainbows or dark grey clouds appear.
Asking everybody makes you a nobody.
Nobody knows your decision better than you. Collecting too many opinions shows a lack of confidence. Frankly, it shows extreme weakness.
Group decisions are the easy way out. Don’t do it, it’s a bear trap.
Asking everyone only confuses you more
When I ask the crowd, often, I end up overwhelmed.
Everyone comes at my decision from a different angle with different experience. Because I have no context on each person, it’s hard to know what biases have formed around their opinion.
Too frequently it becomes a competition to look smart while giving feedback on my decision. Or the request encourages people to self-promote and push me toward an option that makes THEM money. This is what happens when I ask a question on Twitter to get feedback on a decision.
The other issue is asking everyone for feedback is often a lack of research in disguise.
When I spend the time to do the work and understand the pros and cons of a decision in some detail, I don’t find the urge to ask everyone for their feedback.
Don’t let crowds confuse you.
Their incentives and experience are mostly different from yours.
A kickass alternative to asking everyone
What’s worked well for me is instead of asking everybody, I get feedback from one smart person whose experience is closely aligned with the decision I’m trying to make. I ensure they have a good track record and most importantly…
I don’t take their feedback as gospel. I still do most of the decision-making myself.
There is a huge cost to inaction
“Decisions are the unit economics of life—choosing one thing is simultaneously the rejection of all other things.
If you never act, you’ll end up with nothing but expired imaginations. You can’t just ‘think about it’”. – SchrodingrsBrat
There is no option in life but to become decisive.
Because those who can make decisions get all the benefits. They’re the ones who take calculated risks, run experiments, and have snowglobe experiences where they shake up their entire world.
The alternative is to not make decisions. To keep collecting opinions the way a gambler collects Tattslotto tickets. To keep putting off decisions until the future or until the dreaded “when I’m not busy” (which by the way is freaking never).
I don’t recommend you do that. I did it for a long time and wasted years of my life. I can’t go back and there are some regrets.
But at least, going forward, I can get out of group decision hell and get on with life. That’s the only option.
Make decisions. Back yourself.
PS — Sometimes the best person to ask for the right decision is…
But there’s a catch.
Your intuition and idea generation have to be as sharp as you can make them.
Catch the replay of my free masterclass: How to Rewire Your Brain and Become an Idea Generation Machine by clicking here.