Shift Your Mental Spotlight

We make thousands of decisions every day. It’s a natural part of life and decision making rarely is a conscious decision.

Even when we think we’re making a concerted effort to make a decision, there’s other factors at play. We’re not looking for the best answer. We’re looking for the answer that best fits our preconceived notions.

Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, put it in these terms

We give too much weight to the information that’s right in front of us, while failing to consider the information that’s just offstage.

Have you discovered this to be true?

Here’s what I’ve discovered. We’ve got a confirmation bias when decisions pop up in life. And our mental spotlight shifts to focus on one or two solutions.

The mental spotlight is so narrow that we miss out on the many other options that are available to us. Let’s walk through a few scenarios.

1. Randy’s work performance hasn’t been great. In fact, you’re thinking of firing him. It’s the best choice after all, right? Maybe but is it the only choice? What else could we do in this situation?

Could you reassign Randy to a new position that may be a better fit for his skills and personality?

Could you send Randy to training to increase his skills and his confidence?

Could you talk to Randy and see if there’s an issue at home that may be causing a lack of focus?

By shifting your focus slightly, you’ve allowed your mental spotlight to notice other solutions to a difficult situation. Maybe Randy needs to be fired but maybe a shift in his duties or more training is what he really needs.

2. The building you’re working in is too small to accommodate the employees and equipment your company needs. The obvious solution is to move into a bigger, newer building. Is that the best solution or…

Could you create divisions in your company and run the business from two separate buildings? Both working together and helping the company to grow but separated by different duties.

Could expand the current facilities and add on? There could be extra land behind the small building that could be used to expand. Look into the option.

Could it be that you need to narrow your focus and get rid of some of the under-performing business segments?

When you feel the mental spotlight narrowing onto one decision without consideration for other options, realize what’s happening. You’re going for the low hanging fruit.

Instead go through the process of seeing the other options available to you. As seen in the examples, there are more options than you realize.

Once you’ve shifted your mental spotlight, go through the options you’ve discovered and figure out which one works best for you. Just don’t jump on the first solution you see!

Question: Have you been caught in the trap of a mental spotlight? What other options weren’t considered because of the narrow focus of your search? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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