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Anchors Aweigh!

Recent crazy weather patterns have brought the promise of an early spring, luring me into many conversations about golf. If you’ve seen my LinkedIn profile, you know that I proudly state that I am a “bad golfer.”  Even when I often play the best, all I can hope for is an improvement from bad to just below mediocre (and that is on an exceptionally good day! ⁠Smile) One round that stands out for me is one I played a few years ago with a friend.  We were on the putting green, and that was difficult due to all the breaks and angulations. My friend putts first, the ball hits a down slope and takes off, ending up further than when he started.  I saw what happened and it messed with my head. Not wanting the same result, I barely tapped the ball and did not even make the slope, making the next putt harder. I suffered from “anchoring”.

When we anchor (and we all do), we place undue importance on the first piece of information we see; it’s psychological.  It could be watching your buddy’s ball take a wild tour of the green before deciding to park itself in a location even he didn’t know existed, or going to buy a car after your neighbor tells you they got theirs for a deal, and suddenly, you can’t shake that number.  Or, selecting a dish at a new restaurant after the waiter comments it’s one of the chef’s favorites, although the other dish you were considering was more to your tastes.  All relatable events, right?!

The crazy part? We all do it, all the time, without realizing it. It’s built into our psyche.  We anchor to the first salary offer in a job negotiation, the initial price quoted for a home repair, or the first piece of advice we get when trying to make any decision. Our brains use that first bit of information as a reference point for all subsequent thoughts and decisions on a topic.

How do we combat this sneaky little mind trick? Awareness.  Knowing about the anchoring effect can help you pause and consider whether you’re really making a choice based on all the information, or just reacting to that first, potentially misleading, piece of data. It’s about taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture, and asking yourself, “am I being anchored here?”

In golf, it means watching my friend’s disastrous putt, laughing at him (because what are friends for?), and then taking a moment to reassess the green with fresh eyes. In life, it’s recognizing those moments when you’re being subtly nudged by an anchor and deciding to weigh your anchor, set sail, and make decisions based on the full map of information available, not just the first landmark you see.

So, the next time you find yourself making a snap judgment or decision, ask yourself: “Is this really me, or am I just anchored?” Trust me; it’s a game-changer, both on the golf course and off.

Challenge your first instincts in decisions this week and share your journey of overcoming the anchoring effect with me. Let’s cultivate a community of leaders who make informed, intentional choices. Ready to set a new course?

“Simplicity is complex. It’s never simple to keep things simple. Simple solutions require the most advanced thinking.” – Richie Norton

Have a great weekend.