Human intelligence is not an even playing field; some people are simply smarter than others. What does that mean for the rest of us?

Even though people with high IQ tend to make better decisions, there are still a remarkable number of intelligent people who chronically make stupid decisions. Likewise, although high emotional intelligence (EQ) boosts career success, leadership talent, and happiness, it doesn’t make one immune to making bad decisions.

Rather than EQ or IQ, what really separates successful people from the rest of the pack is judgement, the ability to make better decisions, and to recognise and correct bad ones. Here are three ways you can improve your judgement and make better decisions:

  1. Recognise Default Biases – Although we are all capable of being rational at times, for the most part, our decisions are driven by subconscious emotional biases. Whether it’s seeking rewards vs. avoiding risk, tactical vs. strategic thinking, or relying on data vs. trusting your gut, understanding our biases can help us become more rational thinkers and make the right decision more often.
  2. Accept Your Mistakes – Nobody is perfect; in fact, some studies show that we make the wrong choice as often as half of the time. What happens after we make a mistake is what really matters. People with great judgement assume responsibility for their mistakes, and are willing to accept and internalise the negative feedback that will inevitably follow. To quote Bruce Lee, “mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
  3.  Learn From Experience – Consider the two strategies above for improving judgement as building blocks for the third strategy. Once you know your biases and are willing to accept responsibility for your mistakes, you become much less likely to repeat similar mistakes in the future. This is because you have learned from an unpleasant experience. The world’s best decision-makers capitalize on their own mistakes. Despite their own flawed logic, they keep refining their judgement, and that enables them to outperform those who do not.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a high IQ, but that shouldn’t keep them from succeeding. With the strategic self-awareness you gain from understanding your biases and how you react to negative feedback, you can make the right decision more of the time, and more quickly learn from your mistakes.

For more advice on the self and your actions have a read of my book: Confidence: Overcoming low self-esteem, insecurity and self-doubt.

BOE Magazine