Double Vision Decision-Making
Bill Cottringer

“Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.” ~Phil McGraw.

Double vision decision-making is a very useful and valuable skill in maneuvering around in today’s plethora of information overload that confronts us all. Basically, double vision is seeing both sides of the decision-making equation, or things like:

• What information you already have and what you may need, and using what you already have smarter?
• What your past experience says in predicting what is happening now or about to happen, regarding recognizing opportunities vs. dangers?
• What is wrong with this picture—from what things should be present but aren’t and what things are present that shouldn’t be?
• What is the difference between reliable truth and unreliable fiction?

In a recent book, “Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions,” MIT researcher Gary Klein turns the well-established military model of rational decision-making upside down and inside out. A major paradigm of decision-making is quickly emerging, ironically from a truer process of how decisions are really made—from the traditional inductive, analytical, rational thinking that is easily explainable to an intuitive decision-making model from “tipping point” theory, which isn’t so easy to articulate or explain.

Here are three ways to improve you double vision intuitive decision-making at home, work or play:

1. Understand Intuition.

Using an asset first involves getting a complete and accurate understanding of what you are trying to master. Just like the acquisition of language, the concept of intuition has baffled psychologists’ understanding and explanations over the years. What we now know is what intuition isn’t:

Intuition isn’t a mysterious 6th sense or ESP power to see into the future.
• It isn’t an un-explainable gut feeling, although it often lands there.
• It isn’t a link between you head, heart and soul, although those sources may interfere with the perceptions you see, the information you hear or the truths you believe.
• It isn't an autonomic instinct, although it make be instinct-like in quickness, as with deciding whether you like someone or not with a first impression.

So, what that leaves is this new definition of intuitive decision-making: “The semi-conscious cognitive process that recognizes patterns of things that are occurring that shouldn’t be occurring, or things not occurring that should be occurring, as compared to what you have experienced in the past with a similar situation, in becoming more aware of what is happening or about to happen, in order to make the best decision, act wisely and be successful.” (that may take a second or third reading to sink in, sorry but there is no easier way of saying this all).

There is one warning here. Human consciousness seems to be evolving and anything we think we know at this point, may only be tentative at best, more as a half-truth waiting for the second shoe to drop. After all, the creative process is going to the left and then the right, to be able to see the rainbow over the treasure chest of truth, there in the middle.

2. Expand Experience.

Like the process of vision, intuitive decision-making requires a solid data base in the brain to compare present situations with to see what is right or wrong with the current picture you are seeing. Reading the dangers or opportunities in a situation requires instantaneous auto pilot recognition of elements in a situation at hand that either should be present and aren’t or are present and shouldn’t be. This is what Heidi in NCIS-Los Angeles built the season finale cliffhanger on—“Something is about to happen that neither of us has anticipated.” How she came to that conclusion will be the dénouement of the last program of the season.

Here is an interesting example calling for decision-makers to expand their experience to make a good decision. I have an old Vietnam Air Force buddy who was convicted of two attempted murders of a drug dealer and a real estate agent and sentenced to 50 years in prison. The parole board will be reviewing his case in a few weeks after 27 years of incarceration, thinking they are adeptly using the older traditional rational model of decision-making, resulting in his freedom or continued confinement. They will consider all the normal things like the nature of his crime, victim statements, court record, prison record, treatment program participation, current attitude and the various risk factors related to success or failure on parole. They may even consider the cost of continued confinement vs. the cost of community supervision.

But guess what? In Stephen Covey’s words, “they may have their ladder placed against the wrong building and getting to the top rung is no time to find that out.” The right building is the actual intuitive process they are probably unknowingly using. The problem is, they don’t have a good data base to compare this particular person to, in order to be able to recognize the many things that may be right or wrong in the picture they are presently seeing in order to make the right decision that has the best outcome. Here we have a very unique, atypical inmate with a law enforcement background, no prior criminal record, several graduate degrees, strong family and community ties, 72 years of age, highly employable, and all this with an un-corrupted pro-social attitude which is the single most important predictive variable for success. In essence, this parole board has never had to make such an important decision with such an inmate and have no reference point. All things considered, his risk factors are on the minus side. Good luck with this.

To expand your experience data base, do these things—read, watch, listen and live more. It is that simple.

3. Track Results.

The only way to get better at doing anything is to track the results you get in what you are trying to do and this includes improving double vision decision-making. This will require some intense studying of both important and inconsequential decisions you have made in the past. You have to recall what all your approach to the situation was and remember all the related the patterns of thinking, perceptions and feelings that were going on, to compare those variable with the actual results you got. In sport psychology, this kind of tracking involves recording confidence and preparation levels, anxiety, fears, and hopes, then engaging in the athletic performance at hand, and finally retrospectively seeing what pre-performance behaviors were most related to the best performance outcome. This is what helps you qualify your expanded data base and make better intuitive decisions on what you need to think, feel and do to be successful.

Engage in these three activities, using the very process that improves itself along the way and become a much better intuitive double vision decision-maker. This is one sure way of becoming the success shadow-maker you are currently watching in awe.


After writing this article, I realized I had fallen into my own trap with dualistic thinking in only getting half the picture of double vision decision-making. As it turns out, there are really two distinct types of intuition: (a) the instantaneous. behind the scenes cognitive process of pattern recognition in comparing the current picture with a similar past one in the brain's data base to recognize what is missing, which shouldn't be, or present and shouldn't be, to correctly seize a moment of opportunity or avoid one of danger (b) direct knowing this by tapping into what has been called the collective conscience of wisdom, absolute truth, and ultimate reality of the universe. So, intuition is both easily explainable and also not so in some cases. My experience in life, confirms the actual existence of this latter form of direct knowing. One avenue used by many to access this universal data base is transcendental meditation, which has always been one of the most effective rehabilitation transformation interventions with hardened criminals.

“The capable decision-maker pays more attention to the whispers of quiet wisdom of intuition in the wilderness, than to the loud shouting of noisy thoughts and feelings from the city.” ~The author.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President of Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security patrol, Inc. in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers) Reality Repair Rx (PublishAmerica), and Reality Repair (Global Vision Press) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067, 425-454-5011 or or