The #1 Skill They Fail to Teach You in School

Decision
How the hell am I supposed to read the labels…

Stumbling out of school, you look over your shoulder, as if in a movie, and see mirages of your education career.

The late night cramming, the late night parties, sleeping in the back of the class, staring at a test paper hoping you sat down in the wrong class because you understand zilch of what’s on the paper.

Mostly, you finish with a collection of facts, great friends, and a diploma. Let’s think about it, do leaders thrive with their “collection of facts.”

Of course not.

Leaders have something that followers don’t…the Power of Decision.

Power of Decision

Leaders know how to make decisions. We’re a people that get overwhelmed with too many decisions.

Sheena Iyengar has a famous experiment on choices, an experiment on “analysis paralysis.”

Sheena and her assistants set up a booth in various grocery stores. First they set up a collection of 24 jams for customers to browse, taste and perhaps buy. Then, every couple hours, they removed 18 of the jams and left just 6 for customers to enjoy.

They found something interesting, the table with 24 jams drew about 60% of potential customers while the 6 jam set-up attracted around 40%. Makes sense right?

That’s the obvious point, the interesting result they found, however, was about 30% of customers who visited the table of 6 jams actually bought a jam while only 3% from the larger selection. A wimpy 3%!

Ever walked into the wine section of a grocery store. I like to go and pretend I know what I’m looking for, but most of the time singing “Eeney meeney miney moe”. No one knows what’s going on, there must be hundreds to thousands of bottles you’re supposed to pick out a winner for the romantic night with the wifey.

Leaders prepare themselves for these situations and know how to make decisions quickly without freezing.

Types of Decisions we Learn in School

While in school you are faced with many different choices, moral and mature. What we have is a peer group to base our decisions off.

“Oh, the whole floor is going for a late-night Taco Bell run? Well, I guess that’s what I should do as well.”

Nothing wrong with some TB, there’s always time for a Crunchwrap, but you made a decision based off the behavior of others.

This “influence” is called the power of “social proof.” In a nutshell, usually subconsciously, we base decisions off the actions of the group.

The schoolyard is where you build your character, personality, and also where you set the foundation for the type of person you will be in the future.

Due to social proof, many students lose their ability to make a decision for themselves. Like zombies, they will follow the decisions and actions of their peers.

Become a Decision-Maker

If you got wrapped into this culture, don’t worry, most will to an extent, myself included. The key is how we will respond to this “negative” influence.

Formulate a Unique Brand: Your distinct brand automatically puts you into your own class.
Think about that clique in school. You wouldn’t even think of them as different people just 1 group.

If that’s the case, the members of that clique will become more warped into the social proof umbrella instead of making their own decisions.

Take charge of something: This is a skill that needs more teaching in school. Everyone isn’t going to become President, but each student should be able to take on a project and make decisions to complete the project.

You don’t need to be best at picking the “best” decisions, just having the ability and having the confidence to put yourself out there and make a decision.

Figure out when Social Proof is in play: Here’s a great talent to have. Learn to recognize when you’re being influenced by social proof.

Use your gut, is the choice you’re going to make actually what you want, or are you flocking to what everyone else is doing?

When you have a purpose, your gut will tell you which way to go. You will always have the naysayers who oppose you, but ultimately make your own decision.

Have you caught yourself falling for Social Proof decision making? What leaders with great decision prowess do you admire?

Photo: Credits to Mr_Wahlee