How Do You Make Decisions?
Life is made up of one decision, one choice, after another. How do you make them?
There are many things that are part of reality that we take for granted but that are actually amazing. Choices is one of those. To choose is to change the course of your destiny, of the rest of your life.
Every time you choose, you change your future – and consequently affect the future of many others [cf, the hypothesis of the butterfly effect].
Today, while some of your life may be preplanned for you (e.g., you have a regular work-related schedule), you will decide how you will spend or invest the next 12-24 hours. Granted, many things may intrude on your decision. But all else being equal (and on an average day they are), your decision making process will be the primary tipping point on how your day runs.
Here’s the challenge – most days, most choices, don’t feel anything like a tipping point. They feel very average. Consequently our tendency is to treat them that way. It’s just another day – same ol’, same ol’. The everydayness of life dulls our sensibilities. Instead, what gets out attention is the flashy.
If pressed about the importance of a day, we wouldn’t be that cavalier. It’s not how it should be, but it is how we tend to approach things. While we want our lives to stand out – to make a difference, if they are built on average how can they create exceptional?
So how do you decide what you do in a day, in any given moment?
How many of the following are a regular reflection of your attitude toward daily decision making?
Average, haphazard, tentative, impulsive, regretful, second-guessing, reactive, vague, partial, assumed, rote, repetitive, bored?
How would you change that?
The Fundamental Key to Quality Choices
If you were to consider what is involved in becoming more purposeful and therefore more productive, some of the higher quality options would include: creative thinking, disciplined tenacity, innate or developed wisdom.
But there is something more fundamental to choosing well.
I may want the impact of my day to lift more, but what would I stand on to do the lifting?
I may want to make more meaningful decisions, but how would I go about creating meaningful meaning?
Why choose one thing over another? Unless there is some law or external requirement involved, why do you?
Your answer or lack of one is shaping your life.
The Apostle Paul put it this way,
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil [fleeting]. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. [Ephesians 5:15-17]
The foundation of your choices determines the quality of the results. One of the key reasons I pursue God in regard to the focus of my life – even to the degree of how I structure my day and week – is I realize ultimate meaning is above my pay grade.
It’s challenging enough to execute well. It is significantly more challenging to know what to execute.
Before I can creatively approach my day, before I can strategize effectively, I must understand the why behind what I do. I must understand where my meaning comes from.
In Dec. 2012, Chick-fil-A launched Hatch, a 30,000 ft2 innovation and learning Center aimed at strengthening the customer experience, the brand, and enriching the company’s culture – every part of their business not related to the food itself.
On the floor of this huge warehouse is painted their process toward innovation.
- Understand – A problem well defined is half-solved
- Imagine – Generating ideas and concepts to solve problems
- Prototype – Putting form around an idea or concept
- Validate – Testing high resolution design with objectivity
- Launch – Realizing value by rolling-out the innovation
I spent some time with one of the lead executives over Hatch. He explained one of the keys to their innovation is not starting with creating thinking (“imagine”) but with defining what is true about the situation (the problem, challenge, opportunity) (“understand”).
Paul put it this way, the key to not choosing foolishly is understand first what God’s will is. The key to quality choices is understanding clearly the foundation out of which you make your choices. The foundation of your choices determines the quality of the results. God has an intent for you everydayness, and you can understand it.
If you strategize before you understand your objectives… if you describe your objectives before you understand what you value… if you define your values before you understand your mission… and if your mission is not connected to an ultimate vision – your choices will be premature and ill-defined.
If you want your business objectives to be powerful and if you want your schedule to accurately reflect your life purpose, clarify your foundation. Discover a meaning that is greater than yourself. I would challenge you, discover the God who created your meaning.
Before you image what is possible, before you launch an idea, before you choose, determine the source that defines your meaning. Who or what is driving your choices and what values does it espouse? If you choose before determining this, you are not choosing effectively. You are merely eliminating options.