How to avoid bad decisions.

Greg Storey
2 min readMar 19, 2021

This afternoon I bring you required reading from the intelligent minds of Farnam Street (a smart group of people everyone should be reading). It’s in the form of a list of the biggest reasons they make bad decisions. In my years as a leader in digital, I’ve come to know and council with a few hundred peers. Inevitably we share our victories, but more importantly, our defeats. What brings success for one group will likely not work or apply to the next, but failure is almost universal.

If you want to succeed, learn from those whose success you wish for yourself through their stories of failure — their trials and tribulations.

In this article, the Farnam folks list how they arrive at the failure by making different bad decisions. Each failure comes with a rule Farnam created to prevent making the same mistake again. Here’s a paraphrased list:

  • Being unintentionally stupid — “Never make important decisions when you’re tired, emotional, distracted, or in a rush.”
  • They solved the wrong problem — “Never let anyone define the problem for you.”
  • Used bad data, bad information — “Seek out information from someone as close to the source as possible, because they’ve earned their knowledge and have an understanding that you don’t.”
  • They failed to learn from previous mistakes — “Be less busy. Keep a learning journal. Reflect every day.”
  • Focused on optics over outcomes (my favorite) — “Act as you would want an employee to act if you owned the company.”

I’ll add one that, unfortunately, I had to go through first hand:

  • Failure to believe in the potential to fail — Arrogance built upon success in the past does nothing to drive success in the future.

I can’t stress how everyone should read through this post. Make your own notes, your own rules, and build on the past.



Greg Storey

Constant Observer. Occasional Writer. Operations Chief. People Coach. Design Enthusiast. Type Collector.