The School of Life: Make up Your Mind scores 10/10

 In Careers, Critical Thinking, Decision-making, Insights, Life decisions, Realizer Blog

school of life

What I learnt at the School of Life

Alain de Botton’s School of Life has popped up in Sydney before they launch here permanently in late 2016. Today, I attended the Make Up Your Mind session – all about decision-making. Here are my take outs.

The first take out…. is that I have a lot of take outs. What I mean: despite having studied Decision-Making at university, and spending the last 3 years training and coaching Decision-Making, I thoroughly enjoyed the session and learnt a little more about the way I make decisions. Hats off to Andy Berry for his top notch facilitation: I am hard to please as a participant and he had me impressed from start to finish with how engaging and interactive and non-didactic he made it.

Light bulb moment 1: your life graph

We were asked to plot a graph of major decisions through our life and think about whether they were good (above the line) or bad (below the line). Then, to make notes on HOW you made each decision – did you get advice, did you go slow or fast, what criteria did you use? My insight was that all my good decisions have been where I narrowed down the decision to 1 or 2 key criteria (or at least that’s how it appears in hindsight). That maps well to my tool called clever criteria, designed to help you work out those criteria before you make your big decision. Interestingly, my bad decisions were driven by fear, ego and opportunism. In other words, too clouded by emotion. And in one case, alcohol.

Light bulb moment 2: fear driving a current decision

I’m facing a decision right now on whether to scale up X or Y from a great micro business (2 people, reaching a few thousand trainees each year) into a real world-changing start up. This has had me vexed for a few months as I run into fear every time I think about the world-changing bit. Sounds like hard work, and risky to me compared to the comfortable awesomeness that is X or Y 2016. I hadn’t really spelled out this fear though. The School of Life’s exercises asked the tough questions and helped unpeel the layers of my personal onion to get more self-insight.

We then proceeded to think about worst case scenarios – which weren’t as bad as I feared. Again, previously I had just shut down the line of thinking rather than play out the scenarios. A useful tool, a bit like the pre-mortem.

Light bulb moment 3: don’t limit your options

We looked at “self limiting assumptions” and I had assumed that to grow my business and be world-changing that I needed to become either the owner of an amazing app/tool to help hundreds of millions of people to improve their decision-making. Or I need to become like Tony Robbins. When we worked through different options (in a 3 minute brainstorm), my fellow participant Janet Matta said, how about a passive component? I though, yep: a book. I’ve thought about it before but only vaguely.

To round out the session we were asked to develop an experiment: a lean start-up approach to put your toe in the water. So I have decided to write the first chapter of a book and see how I go. I’ve already been inspired to research self-publishing this very evening.

(Oh, and it turns out that Tony Robbins made his name initially by writing books anyway!)

I give the session a 10/10

It was amazing to see how someone else teaches and inspires people to make better decisions. The experience has really supercharged my energy to take X or Y to the next level and to keep developing new ways of helping people. We have a record number of bookings for Decision-Making training this year at X or Y, so it could be that it’s an idea whose time has come…

Written by Rob Pyne who attended the School of Life’s Make Up Your Mind session on 5.3.16.