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Follow the Clues to Authentic Decisions

decision making Apr 12, 2023

We live in a world that pops from decision to decision. Did you know human beings make about 35,000 decisions in a day? How is it possible to be thoughtful on every decision? It is not. How do we know which ones matter most? By following the clues.

The thoughts and emotions inside of us are clues that tell us to pay attention. They are creating a seed of angst that is raising a deeper question – “Who do you really want to be in this situation?” This unsettling during the decision or ruminating after the fact might be pointing to something important. This is my take away from listening to a podcast interview with Susan David, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

“Who do you really want to be in this situation?”

Most of the time we just push the thoughts aside as unrelated. We pass judgments on that gut feeling or random emotion that we would rather not feel. Left under the surface these thoughts and feelings drive our actions – in other words we react.

  1. The manager makes a sarcastic comment, we retort or withdraw
  2. A colleague decides without including us, so we storm into their office
  3. The email is condescending, so we send back a caustic response

We are wronged and maybe a response is justified. The bigger question that haunts you is, “Who do I want to be in this situation.” We don’t always take the time to dig a little deeper in that moment and notice what is important to us.

Our Deeper Values

Our thoughts and feelings usually stem from that core thing within us that tells us what we value. For example, in the situations above: 

  1. We value respect and being treated respectfully
  2. When decisions impact us, we want to have a voice
  3. We expect to be treated as an equal even (maybe especially) in email interchange

If we don’t create space to learn what is important to us in these moments when we get hooked, our choice is made for us. We are not our emotions. We are not our thoughts. We do not need to be defined by them – but they are data that tell us something more might be going on. Let’s get curious. Don’t let them drive decisions. Don’t dismiss them. Invite a deeper thinking into the process. Sometimes that’s hard to do on our own. 

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