Resulting Basics

Listening to Annie Duke’s most recent book, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, I was intrigued with her discussion on ‘resulting’.

The word (a term that is used in poker meaning “creating too tight a relationship between the quality of the outcome and the quality of the decision”) came up when she was talking about deciding if a non-poker-related decision had been good or not.

I feel like I need a good example here, so I’m going to use my decision to leave my last job. I had a permanent contract and I was guaranteed .5 FT hours, but I regularly got extra hours, bringing me up to .7 FT hours. It gave me a regular (rather modest) income with time left over to pursue other interests (both income producing and non-income producing.) In a lot of ways, it was a pretty nice deal. However, I wasn’t really happy. I didn’t particularly like the pace of the workload or school year, and I had a few other issues with the job. (Not the students. I always loved teaching those kids even when it was a challenging group.) Also, in terms of my money-making prospects, it was a dead end. I decided to leave. Was it a good decision?

I could say, “Yes. As it turns out, I landed on my feet. I got a couple of classes in another department at the same school and I’m making up the rest of the hours teaching Chinese kids online with time left over to do other things.”

However, that’s resulting. That’s putting too much emphasis on the results. The question was about the decision. Was it the right decision?

What if the opposite had happened? I could say, “I haven’t worked much. No one’s hiring English teachers, and my freelancing isn’t working out.”

Again, this is looking too much at the results.

My understanding of resulting is that while the results may weigh in on the question of whether it was the right decision to leave the job, I have to look at the whole situation. I was not happy. I was in a situation where I walked into that building every day and thought, “Why am I still here?” Had a stayed, I would be in a terrible situation mentally and emotionally. I can’t imagine being happy still doing that. I felt so penned in.

Also, leaving made me feel really good. I’m always one for new adventures, new possibilities and new challenges. And the feeling I had when September rolled around and I didn’t have to go back to school was everything. Interestingly, I’ve always loved September. I love a new school year. I love meeting new students. That’s why I’ve always been a sucker for school: new books, clean classrooms, new people to meet. However, I can still feel that elation I had of being at home and not going in to school.

It seems to me that resulting also applies to our students. That was my original point. According to Ms. Duke, we are all born resulters. Outcomes affect us. Notice how I talked about how happy not going back to work made me. That was a result, right? However, if I look at how I made the decision, balancing my work history, my age, what I had to offer to the world against my happiness (or lack thereof) and the cost of spending all that time at school (as well as the travel to and from), I have to say that it was a good decision.

The fact that I was very happy in the end might just be an extra, added bonus.

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