I think Tony Robbins was first to introduce me to the idea of qualitatively judging our decisions. We all know we make good decisions and bad decisions, but Tony was the first to give me a way to determine which are which. His method for analyzing a decision is one I still use today.

Bad Decisions:
Bad for me
Bad for others around me
Bad for the community at large

Not Bad Decisions:
Not bad for me, others, or the community at large

Good Decisions:
Good for me, others, or the community at large
Not bad for anyone

Great Decisions:
Good for me, others, and the community at large

With this formula for assessing our choices, we have a clear way to determine what decisions we make.

It includes the Hippocratic Oath: First, Do No Harm

It also gets us thinking about the broader impact of what we do. Frequently, our decisions are good for us and don’t hurt anyone else, but they also don’t help anyone besides ourselves.

We should aim higher than that. We should be striving for great decisions, not just “good” or “not bad” ones.

Recently, I have been helping one of my mentors, Dan John, post some of his work on Medium. When I started this project, I wanted it to be a good decision. I wanted to help someone that helped me get some exposure and give back in a little way. It’s turned out to be a great decision. I’ll use Tony’s formula to explain why.

Going through years of writing every day has been an amazing education for me. Most of the posts are things I’ve read in the past, but we all have a tendency to forget things, so this refresher has been amazing. I’ve also been able to receive the lessons with another several years of experience. I expand my knowledge which is good for me.

Getting this work on Medium is great for Dan. His work gets exposure to a new audience and I am sure it translates to more people seeking him out for coaching, workshops, etc. in the future. Free marketing is good for him.

It is very important to note that this isn’t his goal. His mission is to make a difference. It’s my goal that he benefits from this endeavor.

Exposing a new audience to this work also provides value to everyone that reads it. Dan is an excellent writer and I think everyone that reads his articles will improve because of it.

Looking at the effect of posting Dan’s work from the point of view of everyone involved made me realize that this decision was better than I wanted it to be. Posting his work helps me, helps him, and helps everyone that reads it.

This constitutes a great decision even if I did make it entirely by accident —For the record, great decisions are not my norm and usually happy by chance.

Most of the time, I don’t think through my decisions very deeply. If I’m lucky, I think about whether it will hurt or help me. This is a very shortsighted approach and one that frequently leads to bad decisions instead of good ones.

My best decisions usually come from luck. I would like to change this. Rather than making decisions quickly from a very narrow viewpoint, one of my goals is to take more time thinking about the broader effects of the decisions I make.

I have written up these three questions on my whiteboard to help me remember:

How does this affect me?
How does this affect others?
How does this affect the community?

I welcome anyone that wants to join me in improving decision making. Feel free to use these questions as a quick guide and please share if you have another method that works well for you.