I just read about a research of the McKinsey Institute about making decisions in the world of big business. Many decisions go wrong in that world by two psychological factors: confirmation bias and overconfidence bias. Both can be overcome by asking the right questions. If you take both biases in consideration, it helps you to know when it’s the right time to take a decision.
Confirmation bias means, that for all of us it’s much easier to integrate new information that is in line with what we already know and believe in. Contradicting information is questioned and often put aside for no good reason – it doesn’t fit in. Overconfidence bias means that we misjudge our own possibilities and the amount of control we have on the outcome.
As musician you have to make decisions too, about what to do with your songs, how to record them, how to release them etc. Both biases play a role here too. Imagine that you’ve just written some new songs. You think they are the best songs you’ve ever written. They might even be the best songs you’ve ever heard! You try to silence the little voice of doubt within you. You will listen to everyone who praises you for the great songs. People who don’t like your songs probably don’t know enough about music or don’t understand you. Whatever, their opinion doesn’t matter. Right? That’s when you are stuck in the confirmation bias.
This easily leads to the overconfidence bias. When enough people love your songs, you start to believe that your songs will certainly become hits, that hundreds or thousands of people will buy the record and come to your shows. Your songs are so great that you’ve already conquered the world, even before your album is released. You believe that you have full control over the outcome.
With asking the right questions you can overcome the biases. For tackling the confirmation bias, you ask yourself if your assumptions are right. Did consider the voices of people who didn’t agree with you? Did you ask many different kind of people? Did you compare your songs with other great songs, hits and obscure songs? For the overconfidence bias, you have to focus on the downside of your plans. What could happen to sabotage your plans? What personal and what business developments would harm your plans?
If you are still confirmed and confident after researching your assumptions and at the downside risks, you are ready to take the decision.
If you are confirmed but not confident, you might be too optimistic and can better look at the risks too. Put your plans under a stress test.
If you are confident but not confirmed you might have the wrong assumptions. Reach out and look at your plans from different points of view.
And if you are not confirmed and not confident, you can better reconsider your plans.
Good luck, and choose the right time for your decisions.