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Decision Making Paradox

Reality check. You might think that with more experience, more assurance would naturally follow the hiker or outdoorsman, but often the opposite is true. The more experience you have, or the more others depend on you, the more you are likely to waffle on some of your decision making, struggling at times. Second-, third-, even fourth-guessing yourself is commonplace, especially among the pros. The more one knows just how changing and fickle the weather can be, for example, the more we strive or even struggle to get it right. And getting it right, exactly right, is what we’re all after. It’s the holy grail of deciders everywhere. “Nailed it” is our mantra!

If you’re a mountain guide, outdoor trip leader, or a search and rescue (SAR) volunteer, getting it right the first time is even more critical. A guide, leader, or rescuer that can’t manage the well being of themselves, for example, is in a poor position to manage the well being of others. They can’t properly tend to their client’s, participant’s, or patient’s needs if they’re unable to satisfy their own. Knowing this is paramount. Thus, understanding yourself, your gear and layers, and how to function along the margins — and where those margins exist — is key. Even if you’re not a guide, leader, or rescuer. Even if you’re just some hiker enjoying the peaks. This stuff is part of the game.

Experience helps a lot, though. It’s huge, in fact. While experience will likely stimulate some struggle in our decision making — and that’s quite healthy — it also leads to a lot of correct decisions along the way. Critical decisions like what boots, layers, or gear to bring, what level of protection does it need to offer, what objective and subjective hazards exist, where, and for how long.

The reasons for this article are to, one, reveal this truth, this observation, and two, for you to know that if you really struggle to make some of these important decisions, but then you generally get things right, that even though you are probably an experienced hiker or outdoorsman, this is both normal and that you win. Keep up the good work. And to everyone else, know that it is work sometimes.

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