Effective Decision Making

Growing up, I remember how much a part of me enjoyed playing games where there were rules.

Games like dodgeball, checkers, and even tag seemed to have plainly understood rules and guidelines on how everyone would play together.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized how little the structure and contained experiences of childhood games represent real life.

In the big game of Adulting, the stakes are often bigger than we can anticipate, the variables or even who we’re playing with are unclear, and how both “winning” and “losing” seem to come with risk and consequence.

Worse is how often the guidelines, metrics, and rules we’re asked to play within are confusing, seem to conflict with each other, or are even completely ignored by other players.

How do we play the Game of Life in a way that includes both infinite possibilities and the present moment, which seems to call for definition, attention, and benevolence? It seems especially challenging in our modern age where there is seemingly always someone unhappy, upset, or unsatisfied with what we did, how we said it, or what we stand, or don’t stand, for.

Often when I’m presented with a decision or a crossroads of character, I have my initial reaction or response.

Sometimes that response is pure, connected, and aligned with my inner relationship.

Sometimes, and most often, I’m not quite sure.

Is my initial response coming from my mind, heart, gut, wounds, bias, shadow, pressure from others, culture, or expectations from my friends or family?

While that seems like a long list, whether it happens in a split second, a few moments, or over a night’s sleep, in those moments when a decision is being asked for, all those voices want to be heard.

How can we keep ourselves from being overwhelmed?

I’ve found it helpful to remember that while all things in my life are on a continuum, the only thing that matters is what’s happening at this moment. This situation, this challenge, and this relationship are what I have influence over, and my action or inaction in these moments is all I can ever gauge my performance by, even more so than the result.

Over the years, I’ve found three frameworks that have helped me immensely in how I approach decisions and how I’ve found and created more peace and stability for myself in the process.

The first, and what we’ll be diving into today, is Effective Perspectives. The other two are Values-Charting and Even-Overs. We’ll touch on those two in later sharings.

“Effective Perspectives” is a framework that I learned from Cairo Rha of Self Craft. If you’re into learning how to blend spiritual principles with heart-led leadership and practical coaching methodologies, I highly recommend checking them out.

Essentially, an Effective Perspective is anything that is

* Good for you,
* Good for others, and
* Good for everyone (the collective/world).

While this perhaps seems overly simplistic, it’s also profoundly revealing.

More often than not, due to the fast-paced, demanding culture we live in, we either swing towards doing things that are only good for us with no regard for others, or do only the things that are good for others and everyone, all while completely forgetting about ourselves.

This does not create the balance or harmony the world desperately needs right now.

At the same time, perfect harmony is difficult, if not impossible.

If we were only to take action when something meets all three of the criteria, we’d probably be waiting around for a long time! (and there’s a lot to be said about inaction as the right action)

I’ve found it more realistic to approach Effective Perspectives as a helpful framework, not an absolute.

Instead of approaching decisions based on the push and pull of my often egoic mind, subjective feelings of my heart’s wisdom, or external demands, I focus on how conscious or intentional I am about what is or isn’t fully aligned.

Sometimes, what needs to be done may lead to it being not so good for me, such as helping a friend with a task, which leads to me having to stay up a little later studying for a test.

Sometimes, what is seemingly needed leads to things being good for me, perhaps even others, but not so good for the world, such as mass agriculture and our culture’s affinity for plastic.

We may never truly know if our decisions and actions were the most holistically sound for everyone involved. The invitation is to inquire if the costs or tradeoffs we are constantly asked to make are made with clear heads and steady hands.

Rather than assuming what’s possible, judging ourselves for what we did or didn’t do, or allowing others to influence our inner knowing, we can instead choose with Effective Perspectives which path to follow.

This way, once the game has been played, the dice have been cast, and the cards are on the table, we can rest peacefully knowing that win, lose, or otherwise, we played well for ourselves, others, and the world we live in.


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