What’s On The Table?

  A Critical Doer keeps risk and failure in context with opportunity and success 


When you saw the title of this post, you probably thought it would have something to do with food.  Sorry to disappoint you, especially if you’re reading this before breakfast, but at least consider this food for thought.

Decisions that could take your life in a new direction require serious thought.  When considering the impact of the decision, your judgment can become clouded with emotion.  One way to separate emotion from fact is to consider how a decision affects a range of options.  Here are some questions to ask that can help you better understand what is off and on the table.

  1. What options are off the table if you walk away from a course of action? This question is mechanical in nature.  If you decide against pursuing a degree that’s required for a job, you won’t get the job.  If you don’t learn to fix cars, you can’t be a mechanic.
  2. What options are unaffected if you walk away from a course of action? Sometimes you think of pursuing something and get in your head that it’s required when in reality it’s not.  Options that fall in this category often revolve around the tradeoff between education and accumulation of experience.  In asking this question, it can also help you to see that there may be more time than you think and the decision doesn’t have to be made today.  Example:  if you don’t learn to fix cars, you can’t become a mechanic but you can still become an accountant.
  3. What options become available if you walk away from a course of action? This question captures opportunity cost.  In the time you invest pursuing a course of action, can you bear the cost of not doing a number of other things with the time.  Time is an important consideration here as well; you may have time to do it all…maybe you don’t.  Example:  if I don’t learn to fix cars, I now have time to invest in learning a language.

Your challenge is to apply this framework to a decision you or someone who looks to you for mentoring is trying to make.  Separating the emotion from reality through these 3 questions can help you more clearly see what options are on the table, off the table, unaffected by the decision, and the opportunity cost.  Critically thinking through the risk and opportunity will keep more viable options on the table for you, and it’s what a Critical Doer would…do!  Bon appetit!


Additional Reading:  Start At Success To Get To The Beginning


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Updated: August 9, 2015 — 10:19 am