A Failure-Proof Approach to
Making Good Life Decisions
What victories await Christians who combine
the Regret Minimization Framework with the
Christ Maximization Framework?
Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, went from quitting his job to becoming the world’s wealthiest person in just 25 years! How did he do it? By his testimony, he did it by following his “Regret Minimization Framework.”
In this blog post, I will show you how to combine the Bezos approach with what I call the “Christ Maximization Framework” to show you how to experience the best of both worlds in facing all of life’s decisions—including the ones you are facing today. It’s the road to victory in Jesus for you!
Have You Heard About “Mental Models”?
What important decisions confront you at this moment? Is it what to include in your daily schedule? How to handle a struggling family relationship? Where to invest funds? What to do with a career change possibility? What TV program to watch tonight? How to overcome a nagging temptation?
Whatever you face, remember: Whenever we are required to choose or act, our decisions are most often based on the “mental model” we’ve embraced. It’s the framework for thinking things through based on your priorities, passions, ambitions, and fears.
For example: Do you make day-to-day decisions based primarily on what enhances family happiness? Or secures more financial security? Or achieves better job success? Or promotes greater physical well-being? Or furthers your political or social agenda? Those are all illustrations of mental models.
Hedonism’s mental model (Paul refers to it in 1 Corinthians 15) is: “Eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die.” A hedonist’s lifestyle and pursuits revolve around that overriding conclusion.
Or there’s the often-quoted mental model called Occam’s Razor, which says, “Simpler explanations are more likely to be true than complicated ones.” So, when facing a decision, instead of wasting your time sorting out an array of complex possibilities, essentially go with the choice that is the least complex—the one easiest to understand and explain to others.
Well, multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos defines his longtime mental model as “Regret Minimization Framework”—the outlook he has used over and over in making decisions since launching Amazon, which is now a trillion-dollar corporation.
Let’s look at his approach briefly. You’re about to discover there are two corresponding spiritual frameworks that it reflects—two biblical mental models that when used to make decisions are fundamentally failure-proof.
Jeff Bezos’s Regret Minimization Framework:
What Is It, and How Does It Work?
In 1994, Bezos was holding down a well-paid position at a Wall Street hedgefund company. But he was restless. His persistent dream was to start an online bookstore. It was a big risk, or so it seemed; even his boss cautioned him not to give up the promising career path he was on. How was he to make the choice? What mental model would guide him?
After quitting his job and with only $10, 000, here is how it all unfolded, in his own words:
The framework I found, which made the decision incredibly easy, was what I called — which only a nerd would call — a “regret minimization framework.”
I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, “Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.”
I knew that when I was 80, I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal.
I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that.
But I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day, and so, when I thought about it that way, it was an incredibly easy decision.
Over the past 25 years, Jeff has employed this framework over and over with many other decisions—to the tune of a trillion dollars.
What Can Jesus Followers Learn From Using
the Regret Minimization Framework?
The answer is simple. Expand it from 80 years to eternity! What do I mean?
Paul gives us an example of the eternal reworking of the Bezos approach when he writes about his own mental model in 2 Corinthians 5 (TLB, emphasis added):
So, our aim is to please Christ always in everything we do, whether we are here in this body or away from this body and with him in heaven. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body. It is because of this solemn fear of the Lord, which is ever present in our minds, that we work so hard to win others. God knows our hearts, that they are pure in this matter.
In other words, Paul’s entire life—all of his choices, actions, relationships, travels, travails, and victories—was lived in the constant awareness of what it would be like for him one day in eternity when, along with all the saints, he would actually stand before the Throne of Heaven face-to-face with his Savior and Master. Paul knew he would be held accountable for all he did and said and for all of his decisions and why he made them the way he did.
In that day, he did not want to have regrets! Like Bezos put it, Paul “moved himself forward” in his mind to envision his ultimate destination, imagining himself alive in that future hour. Next, he reflected on how he would feel then about what he was electing to do now. And like Bezos, Paul asked himself:
- Will I regret it if I try but fail to accomplish the Father’s purposes as I seek day by day to serve and glorify his Son?
- Will I regret it if I do not at least try to accomplish the Father’s purposes as I seek day by day to serve and glorify his Son?
Paul’s answer to the first question would be an unhesitating YES!—he would be full of regret.
His answer to the second would be an equally clear NO!—because he would be able to say to the Lord Jesus without flinching, “I gave it my all, every day, to live for you and exalt your name.” And he knew that approach would minimize whatever regrets he might have at the close of his earthly journey.
John also calls us to a Regret Minimization Framework as he reminds us of that same future encounter:
And now, my little children, stay in happy fellowship with the Lord so that when he comes you will be sure that all is well and will not have to be ashamed and shrink back from meeting him. (1 John 2:28, TLB, emphasis added)
This grander Regret Minimization Framework provides us an excellent worldview by which to approach every decision, large or small. We need only to ask:
When I stand before the Lord Jesus on that final day will I regret having spent my time in that activity, or having treated that person in that way, or allowing myself to entertain those thoughts?
Even more accurately, practicing a biblical Regret Minimization Framework should increase in us the boldness to—in the words of the life motto (the mental model) of William Carey, father of the modern missionary movement—
Expect great things from God.
Seek great things in God.
Attempt great things for God.
Traveling this promising pathway, we know life never becomes fail-safe because there will be mistakes, shortfalls, and setbacks. But the experience will always prove to be failure-proof.
For you see, whenever and however we are seeking to please Jesus in all we do or say, there is never any failure in that. Only glory to Christ. Only joy in heaven. Only delight in the Father’s heart. Only increased spiritual richness in your soul. Only “well done” waiting to be pronounced over you at the consummation of the ages.
But Here’s How to Do Bezos One Better:
the “Christ Maximization Framework”
This phrase refers to more than a purpose-driven life. This blueprint is about a PERSON-driven life.
This is the kind of life in which my passion for the PERSON of Lord Jesus and for making much of him in my life and the lives of others drives how I wrestle with every decision, large or small.
In other words, I ask:
How might this decision—about how to spend my vacation, where to focus my financial giving, who to spend time with, what to do with my free hours—maximize my experience of and witness to the person and preeminence, the purposes and promises and presiding power, of God’s reigning Son?
This is really nothing more or less than what Scripture calls for from every Jesus follower in Colossians 3:16-17 (The Message paraphrase, emphasis added)—
Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Put another way: Everything—which means every decision—should be pursued “in the name” of Jesus. That means we deliberately make choices that will
- magnify his name
- spread his fame
- extend his reign
- increase his gain
- ratify his claim
That priority defines the heart and soul of the Christ Maximization Framework. It is what gives life its fullest meaning; what makes you fruitful to God’s Kingdom; what brings untold blessings to everyone around you.
And it also is the one way to ensure that when Jesus returns, you will have no regrets.
How Has This Worked for Me?
Over the past fifty years of ministry for Christ, my wife, Robyne, and I have had to make five major moves—not only occupationally but geographically—many times with children in tow, from one coast to another and in between.
Never was it an easy decision for us—always costly, in fact. But I can testify to you that even though I did not have these actual terms in hand at the time, in every single case those decisions were made based on these two mental models:
Regret Minimization Framework
Christ Maximization Framework
And, as a result, for five decades and to this very second, the ministry itself has only prospered in how it has impacted more and more lives for the glory of Christ.
Or take today, for instance: Both principles came to bear on this decision two hours ago—whether on this beautiful August summer day I would take off work for the afternoon and relax with a good book or spend time writing this blog post for you.
What do you think I chose? And why did I make that decision?
How ready are YOU to start implementing this dynamic, failure-proof approach to decision-making? Find out by taking, without cost, the brief, personal Christ Awakening Assessment Tool. It may help you take a giant step towards living the rest of your life with no more regret!
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.