My experience as an executive coach suggests that for the vast majority of decisions that my clients deem to be critical, a pros-and-cons list is useful only as a very high-level preliminary thinking aid. I believe this is because the decisions leaders most often bring to coaching are ones for which they perceive the stakes as being high — the client has strong positive or negative (or both) emotions associated with possible outcomes. And when the stakes are high, the potential interference of cognitive biases, wishful thinking, self-limiting beliefs, and similar barriers to objectivity rise. High-stakes decisions therefore require approaches that address these complications. Self-awareness, reflection, and actively applying a range of mindsets are examples of alternatives to the pros-and-cons list that shed light on these hidden, unconscious cognitive biases, ultimately leading to better insights and better decision outcomes.
One elite runner, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, 43, is a highly accomplished marathoner (2:24 PR), race director, family physician, Associate Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserves, and owner of Two River Treads, a Center for Natural Running and Walking, in Sheperdstown, West Virginia. He is a big believer in video analysis and barefoot running. “I have been enlightened in how not just my own body works and how to correct it, but also in how I can assist others, by participating in gait evaluation and the corrective prescriptions with Jay Dicharry at his SPEED Performance Clinic. Jay has taught me to see and understand what I could not see. The analysis which involved motion and joint forces helped me identify asymmetries, joint mobility and stability deficits, and stride patterns which were sub-optimal for efficiency. By cueing certain movements and muscles I made immediate corrections in form and through proper rehabilitation of weaknesses made long-term stability corrections. Retesting proved in the lab what I was feeling in my body—a more relaxed, stable, and efficient stride. That being said I continue to learn and am doing a lot of true barefoot running now and it’s really impossible to overstride barefoot. The lower leg never gets out beyond perpendicular to ground.”