How Good Judgement Can Save Your Life

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

As a former colleague of mine (now a Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service) said to me once,

“they don’t pay me for time served; they pay me for my judgement”.

So what is good judgement?

In essence, it is the ability to take all factors, implications and consequences into consideration when making a decision.

This can include knowledge of consequences from previous experience - but it doesn’t have to.

As is made clear in the old Indian story of the Three Fishes…

Once upon a time, three fish lived together happily in a secluded lake.

They had lived there peacefully all their lives, and had grown large in size as a result of their comfortable existence.

The three of them were basking peacefully in the late afternoon sunshine one day, when a group of men walked past the lake.

They had been clearing ground in the nearby forest, so this was the first time they had been this way.

They spotted the fish, and immediately got excited:

“look at the size of these fish! We must come back tomorrow with our nets and catch them. They will make good eating!”

One fish turned to the others and said,

“did you hear what those men said?! They said they were going to come back tomorrow to catch and eat us! We must leave this lake before they come back!”

The second fish said,

“if you think it’s a good idea, I’ll come with you”.

But the third fish said,

“nobody has ever fished here! I don’t believe they will come back.

I’m not going to leave the place where I’ve lived all my life - there is no point. I’m staying!”

The first and second fish tried to persuade their friend: just because they had no experience of this situation happening before didn’t mean it could NEVER happen.

They were safer taking notice of the warning they’d received from what the men had said, and acting on it - the consequences were not worth the risk.

But the third fish was adamant: he was not going to leave.

So the first and second fish realised they weren’t going to convince their friend.

They said fond goodbyes, and then found their way through a little stream that led from this lake into a river, and swam off to find a new home.

The third fish went to sleep that night feeling smug that he didn’t have to embark on that dangerous journey, but was safe in his home - just as it had always been.

But the next morning, just as the sun began to rise, the men returned.

They cast their nets into the lake, and they caught the third fish - and took him home to eat.

He would have been better off taking notice of the good judgement of his friend…

It can be hard to find good judgement on your own.

That is the ideal use for one of my Power Hours: when you have a tricky career decision, and need some objective, expert support to help you find the best way forward.

See my LinkedIn Recommendations for examples:

If you'd like some good judgement to help you move forward with confidence, email me to book your session:

Wishing you a positive and productive week! 😊💪💖

Kirsten xx