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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Decision Making... The Process

Monday I posted David’s Dilemma, which is not unlike many …

What Should I do?

When life throws you multiple opportunities it also throws the dilemma of making a decision. What if you make the wrong decision? Your career and future happiness depends upon doing the right thing.

Life is definitely easier when our options are limited—the decision is easy. But when there are more than one way to go... how do you decide?

There are many tools available to help rationalize which route to take when trying to make a decision. I recently purchased the book How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer. I’ve yet to read it, but looking forward to discovering how our minds work in the fascinating process we call decision-making. I'll keep you posted.

Decision Making

There are many analytical tools available. One is the Grid Analysis, where you list all your choices down one column and rate each factor with a number with the highest most important—then add up the scores. Another is a SWOT analysis that companies use to determine their Strengths and Weaknesses in alignment with the Opportunities and Threats of the environment. This tool actually enables businesses to identify their strengths and to look outside their walls to the environment. I’ve come up with a combination of these two analysis methods to assist in decision making process. I hope this helps.

We'll use David's Dilemma for the example.

Here’s how it works:

List all your options down the left side. Write the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats for each option across the top. Once you get them on paper you’ll have a clearer picture of the right thing to do. I’ve started the evaluation list for David. Now it’s up to David to figure the rest out by filling in all the squares below.






Stay at Gulfstream



Good pay

Enjoy the flying


Bad Reputation

No glass time




Change Companies

Fly for Commuter

Fly for US Department

So with all this said, you can make the best decision with the information available and you still may not make the correct decision.

1996 I had an invitation with NWA for an interview. But I was flying the 747 with Tower and was looking at a Captain in 6 months. I loved what I was doing, but didn't know what to do. I asked so many pilots and some said "stay," others said, "go." Everyone had an opinion. Bottom line...I decided I loved what I was doing and decided to stay at Tower. I was tired of changing airlines.

The day I had made that decision was the same day I learned I was on the list to be furloughed from Tower. I took the interview with NWA, and was hired. The story gets better…

This furlough notice went out in October, and in November (the same day I was offered the job at NWA) I was called back to work at Tower. They’d told me they'd decided to not furlough this year. Historically, the owner of Tower would furlough for a month before the big Haj contract started so he wouldn’t have to keep all the pilots on payroll.

What had happened was the Chief Pilot was on his way to New York to tell the owner of Tower to not furlough that particular year because all the airlines were hiring and Tower wouldn’t have anyone to fly the Haj. But on his way to the airport the Chief Pilot got hit by a car and missed his flight so he didn't talk to the owner and the furlough letter went out. (Later to be retracted) Because of those events... my life changed.

I stayed at NWA and Tower eventually went out of business. But the moral of this story is… sometimes we make the wrong decisions, and the universe changes our options. Or we might make the right decision, and the choice is taken away. All I can say is… make the best choice you can, and hope for the best. Use all the resources you have, follow your instincts, your gut... that little voice... and do the best you can. You won't know if made the right decision until the end of the game.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. I needed to be reminded of this again ... at this point of my Life.
    Optimism, determination, resilience, preparation, passion and ... did I say optimism? ... are all pieces to the puzzle. One day, the time comes where all the preparation is called upon and a certain amount of "risk" is needed to make yet another decision! To go / not to go?
    A bit like every flight really. Preparation, knowledge and more preparation can help us in creating more options available towards a safer outcome ... in our lives and on our chosen journeys. There are ups and downs, diversions and maintenance stops. Each has its own importance, timing is essential most of the time. There is no ONE way to do it, the more options we have available the more we have to choose from, especially in "emergencies" where our "tunnel vision" allows us to see only a part of the picture.
    ... as you remind us Karlene: Enjoy the journey!

    1. Michelle, I know we all need to be reminded of this. All we can do it the best we can with a great attitude! Sorry for the delayed response!

  2. I hope I will use this technique.Because I want some options in the future.Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.Whenever I read your writing and see photos,I got motivation that I wanna fly with passengers although I notice that the schedule is tough.
    I am sorry about chief pilot's accident.
    I really like the last photo.Beautiful mountain,snow with cargo airplane.thank you!!
    Have a great day,Karlene san.

    1. Jun, I hope this will help you along the way. You will have many decisions and choices. But I know you'll do the best you can always. Thank you for the comment. And sorry for the delayed response.

  3. My though is that there is no wrong decision. You cannot go back, you really do not know how things would have turned out if you had chosen "B" vs "A". You just have to make the best of where you are. In the USAF, we used to say that the very best job in the Air Force is the job you have now. Do it well and opportunity will find you, or you will realize your greater worth and find opportunity. Act like you hate it and you might as well dig a hole and pull the dirt in over you.

    1. You are absolutely correct!!! Make the best now and that's all we can do. I've learned what I thought was wrong, turned out to be right in the long run. So you never know. Yes... opportunity does find you if you have the right attitude. Thank you so much for the comment and I am so sorry for the delayed response.

  4. Well said. We can never really know until it has all played out. The best we can do is enjoy the journey. :)

    1. Thanks Heather! 4 months late, but I appreciate your comments... always!

  5. That is an excellent decision grid, love it. Yes, I can imagine applying that to all sorts of decisions. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Linda. It's served me well. Just to get out of our head and on paper. Thank you so much for the comment... months ago! :)

  6. i just use this SWOT technique and i will go for doing an instructors rating instead of a type rating or a BE 1900 program at eagle jet, it may not be the right or wrong decision but i do believe with my resources at this moment it is the best decision. il enjoy my journey along the way and hope the universe brings me my heart desires.
    Thanks again Karlene and i will Enjoy the Journey

    1. Osagie, I am glad this helped you. And... as we talked, I think we have to agree with Marc...there is no right and wrong. You will find that doing your best at what you're doing, you're going to go far!

  7. SWOT analysis templates are one of the easiest ways to do a SWOT analysis of your project, business or the company. The templates are already done so you only have to fill in the details. Different color patterns, headings etc available in these template makes it very easy to come up with very professional SWOT diagrams in minutes. Mentioned below are some SWOT analysis examples available to you at Creately.

    1. Evan, thank you for providing that useful tool!!


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