Do You Make Decisions Off Of Consequences Or Appropriateness?

I only have a few more chapters left of “Originals” by Adam Grant and wanted to keep sharing some nuggets of gold that have been shaping my thinking. These two paragraphs below have given me new language and ways of thinking about risk.

Check it out:

According to eminent Stanford professor James March, when many of us make decision, we follow a logic of consequence: Which course of action will produce the best result? If you’re like Jackie Robinson and you consistently challenge the status quo, you operate differently, using instead a logic of appropriateness: What does a person like me do in a situation like this? Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base the decision on who you are or who you want to be.

When we use the logic of consequence, we can always find reasons not to take risks. The logic of appropriateness frees us up. We think less about what will guarantee the outcome we want, and act more on a visceral sense of what some like us ought to do.
— "Originals" by Adam Grant

The consequences always give you reasons not to take risks. What if this is the wrong mode of thinking? What if we first looked to our identity to guide our decisions instead of trying to figure all the details of how the thing you are dreaming to do could fail?

I have a question for you that has been nagging me. Think of a risk or a big decision in your life and for one moment, set aside the consequences. Ask yourself, “What does a person like me, do in a situation like this?”

It takes you having some sort of deep sense of your identity to operate like this but I think it could give us the courage we need at times to move forward in the face of risk.

I’m trying to shift my mindset from consequences to appropriateness. Maybe you should too.


Jason