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How to Make Good Decisions

Think: Boundary Conditions (Thanks, Drucker!)


This morning I woke up early with a bunch of +1s forming in my head. I smiled as I unpacked them a bit while enjoying a few more minutes in bed.

Then, I was tempted to hop up, turn on my computer and get the ideas out of my mind while they were still fresh.

But I didn’t.

That’s not the protocol.

The protocol? I wake up, brush my teeth, meditate for 20+ minutes, move for 5 and then journal for a few then get to Deep Work.

So, I jotted down a few key words for the +1s on a little Post-it Note in the near-dark of my candle-lit bathroom and went through my morning routine like I do every single morning.

Why would I do that?

Because I’ve created what Peter Drucker would call “boundary conditions” — which are basically what willpower and habit-creation scientists call “bright lines.”

My boundary conditions are clear: I don’t work before I’ve done my meditation and I don’t work after digital sunset / shut-down complete. Period.

I’m willing to trade some potential extra creative output today for the much higher levels of creative output I will achieve long-term by maintaining the structure of my days that gives me the best shot of sustainably showing up with optimal energy and focus.

Here’s the story Drucker tells in The Effective Executive to bring the point home. It’s the mid-twentieth century. There’s a huge power failure in New York City — preventing most newspapers from publishing their papers. Except The New York Times. They wisely hustled on over to New Jersey to use the extra printing capacity at another paper’s printing facility.

But, rather than print the expected one million copies, they only printed a fraction of that. Why? Because their editors got in an argument over the appropriate hyphenation of a SINGLE word. This debate by the grammar police burned through half of the precious time they had to print their papers.

But you know what? The New York Times had a boundary condition of being grammatically perfect in every single line of every single issue of their paper.

So, although they lost some sales that day, Drucker tells us that they made the right decision.

Boundary conditions. They’re powerful aids to making effective decisions.

What are some of yours?

That’s Today’s +1.

Let’s shine some bright light on the lines that keep you performing at your best.

(P.S. The +1s I jotted down came out perfectly. And, more importantly, my integrity is intact. Let’s do this!)