Do you ever look back and wonder why decisions were taken so quickly or why whole risks and opportunities were overlooked?  Learn from that feeling and beware of self confidence!

The brain is designed to spot patterns and make associations to explain the world around us.  When we think we’ve figured out cause & effect and created a story, we tend to believe ourselves with surprising confidence.

This “Narrative Fallacy”, as it’s called, can be dangerous, as our minds tend to close to other explanations as soon as we have a plausible one.

A few years ago, a highly publicised piece of research reported that the top 50 schools in a number of US states comprised of a significantly disproportionate number of small schools.  (On average, four times more than you would expect.)

It is easy to construct a story around small schools fostering more caring environments and more attention per child and accordingly, The Gates Foundation (amongst others) invested $1.7bn in small schools

Had their minds not been closed by the plausible narrative they created, they might have spotted that the bottom 50 schools also contained a similarly disproportionate number of small schools!  The likely truth is that smaller schools have a wider spread in performance, as one or two children make a more significant difference.  A simple matter of statistics.

All this matters to us, because we naturally find correlations in historic events and on the back of this set strategy, award bonuses or follow the latest celeb’ diet for that matter.

But confidence in a conclusion is an emotion.  It is a sign that we are “comfortable” with the narrative created.  It is not necessarily a sign that we are right.  The sudden arrival of confidence might be a sign to pause and rethink for a minute.  Ask yourself if you have fully considered all the factors driving cause and effect yet or if your brain is tempting you to settle for a plausible story.


Executive Coaching will help improve your decision-making, highlighting hidden assumptions. These days, most top performers in business work with a coach.

If you would like to invest in yourself and the value of your business then call me on 07730 700258 to arrange a free introductory Coaching session.


Interested in other decision taking tips? Click the link to read “Head or Heart”