Making choices has a dynamic and life of it's own, there is no stead fast rules (i.e. set of parameters) - apart from our vision, mission, value and legacy statements - that we can effectively use, reference or consult to determine whether our choices was/is “effective/ineffective”. There is a kizillion number of variables and constraints that ultimately determine the success (efficiency) of our choices made. When we have to make choices - as a prerequisite for decisive actions - the variables influencing our choice often range extensively between…
Due to the above mentioned immense amount of variables and possible influences, it is virtually impossible to determine in advance whether our decisions are going to be “successful”, especially complex decisions. Because, quite often, we cannot realistically check the alternative “future” - should we make a different choice - of what might have been. Life is no virtual computer game with the option of “3 life's” to correct possible mistakes. We have but one chance… and then we have to deal with and live with the consequences of our choices.
The only way in which we can remotely assess whether our choices was productive, is by monitoring our progress and evaluate whether our actions taken (i.e. subsequent decisions), brings as any closer to our goal or taking us further away from our goal in life. That is… if we had a personal and/or professional goal to start of with in the first place!
Therefore it is vitally important - on the one hand - to establish a goal as soon as realistically possible in life and - on the other - to use our emotions and feelings experienced on a daily basis as a barometer to provide us with feedback on whether we are moving closer to (being productive) or further away (being unproductive) from our goal… the purpose, meaning and destiny of our lives… regardless whether such a goal is either personal, professional and/or community oriented.
The above - at best - can be quite confusing to determine whether our choices is productive or not, but the following - as related to decision dynamics - often cause the making of choices even worse…
Keeping the above in mind, we need to realize that it is all the choices made in the past, that created the opportunities of the present… and it is choices that we make today that will shape our opportunities for the future. Thus, it is not our present opportunities that allows us to make choices… BUT our present choices that creates our future opportunities! The past set the climate for our choices in the present and the future create expectations… the hope, faith and desires sourcing from our dreams. Our present choices are ALWAYS influenced by both our past experiences and future expectation.
Presently it is a sad state of affairs that a significant number of individuals do not spend enough time to prepare themselves for taking choices - as prerequisite for making decisions - and exercise their power of freedom in an answerable manner (i.e. accepting personal responsibility within the context of group accountability). We are presently operating and functioning in rapid changing times, which subtly, steadily and surely ”force” us to prepare ourselves for the unknown and the unpredictable.
As a result of the many changes and possibilities of change that we are confronted with each day - and the subsequent unpredictability related to these changes - we should prepare ourselves for (i.e. how to survive and prosper) future circumstances in a proactive, rather than the familiar and frequently promoted reactive manner based on “age-old-proven historical facts and truths”. Thus, our survival no longer exclusively depends on job specializations, money, status, qualifications, …etc.; our survival - in modern times - is determined by and depended on our skill and ability to CHOOSE… effectively. Our capability to choose by integrating the present context and reality as we observe it, into a whole brain decision making process, which contextualize a holistic point of view, inclusive of past developments, present results and future expectations.
We DO spend enough time and energy when “preparing” for choices (i.e. identifying various possibilities and alternatives). However - regrettably - in most cases the time, efforts and energies are allocated to mainly deal with choices/decisions that merely have a short to medium term impact on our lives (i.e. simple choices). Unfortunately, most of us spend the minimum of time, effort and energy to deal with and manage complex choices, which - without exception - have long term consequences and effects for our lives and we secretly hope that “some expert” or “divine force”, would informed and direct us to what needs to be done and how we are suppose to navigate our futures.
To many people the latter seem absolutely ridiculous… after all, we are responsible and capable to steer our own futures. BUT…
Think about what most people use as a primary or key criterion to select a career and to pursue his/her destiny?… “Will I earn enough money“ to pay for my survival, and when lucky enough… also my prosperity?
Simple choices are - generally speaking - treated differently from complex choices and we are normally ”left alone” to continue with our simple choices in peace… unless, when it's a person that requires to be reprimand once in a while. Complex choices - however - are a completely different scenario all together. Because with complex choices we are expected to do things right as collectively accepted and prescribe by rules, regulations, culture, religion and/or society; regardless whether it is the right thing to do in this particular context and the unique contribution that could be made by each individual. For example… A needs to choose a career that s/he would like to follow in future. Hence, a specific date is set to complete a series of questionnaires and assessments, which are interpreted by an expert and who provides feedback on the results obtained. The expert indicate the “future plan” and the matriculant happily base his/her final career path decision on the result of these questionnaires and expert advice. Sometimes - if time permits - the matriculant spend another week or so to collecting relevant job information to “proof” and justify the validity of his/her choice. An unfortunate practice that is widely accepted by most people as a “scientific” proven and extremely reliable process and method of making a career path decision.
What is wrong with this approach?… Most people regard it as the “best” way to go and - anyhow - it is has been done this way for many years. Granted! But, please consider the following results of this so called reliable and time-tested process…
Statistics cannot really be regarded as a reliable indicator of what is or isn't the best way of doing things. However, it provides valuable trends as how things are likely to develop. The above statistic tends to “criticize” the validity and reliability of the “scientific assessment process”. Furthermore, apart from the above, the mere fact that - on average - time spend on complex choices (e.g. a future career) is merely 0.1%, - assuming that the individual is 18 years of age - to shape at least 35-40 years of his/her future life. Scary to think, that most people are willing to spend more time choosing a cellular phone that choosing a career path.
Quite hair raising isn't it?… spending 0.1% of one's time in dealing with complex choices isn't the worst, providing that it happens over a considerable period of time (i.e. being a cumulative process). But - sadly though - it is frequently “condensed” into a couple of days and it is believed that by “pulling the leaves of a plant we could get it to grow faster”.
The above indication of how we tend to deal with complex decisions in our lives, might seem like an exception to the rule, because at the age of 18, only a few individuals are actually mature enough to take decisions in a responsible manner. However, Stephan Covey in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (published in 1989), indicates that most people (regardless of age, gender or educational background) follow a similar pattern and principle to deal with complex choices… thus, ask the experts what to do and by doing so reinforce a reactive approach, rather than a proactive approach to challenges.
This mainly happens, because we either don't, ignore, are afraid to or forgot how to dream and - with the aid of our over active mind defenses - we trot “happily” along through life awaiting “some jackpot” that could miraculously change things and “rescue” us from our present dreaded existence and to restore meaning and purpose to our lives once again.
This conditioned inclination and view on life, effectively removes us worlds apart from our inherent freedom of choice, render us helpless to efficiently deal with our core concerns and conveniently let us “forget” that we - ourselves - are responsible for the mess that we experience at the moment.
Why does it persist, despite plenty of evidence, that complex choices DO require a significant portion of our daily attentions?…
How we collectively and routinely tend to spend our daily time and apply energy to remain on top of things by the choices we make and decision we take.
We live our lives mostly in Quadrant 1 (often in high beta) and spend most of our daily efforts, time and energy to deal with it. When some time and energy is still left at the end of an exhausting day, we will deal with Quadrant 2 issues… else, we leave it till it becomes a critical Quadrant 1 issue. When nearing a possible nervous breakdown, chronic deep depression, illness, burnout, …etc., we reluctantly deal with Quadrant 3 (based on a conditioned belief that work comes before pleasure you know!). Quadrant 4 is something that we do not even consider; except on the odd Sunday or two, and in case of extreme emergencies, such as in the case of near death experiences for example. Sometimes, a serious “out of control situations” like a suicide, nervous breakdown or mental meltdown - which is accompanied by utter despair, helplessness and a loss of control in life - could also prompt us to pay some attention to Quadrant 4. But - generally speaking - we are currently far to busy to actually spend time on very important and less urgent matters.
Even to this day we cannot agree and there is a consistent and heated debate whether we truly – in the genuine sense of the concept freedom – have the “freedom to choose”. The dynamics of the concept “freedom of choice”, mainly directed by our self-determination, controlled by our self-worth and impacted upon by LAB-Factors, can best be illustrated by the following example…
Suppose a robber breaks into your house and threatens you at gun point to handover your valuables. Discretion being the better part of valour… you give in and tell him where your valuables are kept. But YOU make the decision and YOU do the telling! But, instead of a robber, it was a kidnapper after your child… it would be quite a different react or respond to the situation.(or at least one hope it would be). However - in both cases - your thoughts, decisions and actions are under YOUR own control… not the robber's. The robber merely provides the necessary external prompts or triggers for us to either
In other words… it isn't what happen to us that actually curbs our “freedom of choice”; it is the way in which we think about, interpret and deal with what has happened or is happening to us.
Thus, “freedom of choice” is the ability to realistically and contextually interpret and perceive the event or circumstances and to calmly (i.e. in a emotional mature manner) determine what is within my control (i.e. what can I do about it), what is within our control (i.e. what can society - we - do about it) and what needs to be accepted… because nobody on this planet of ours is able to influence, control or direct such forces and energies (i.e. mostly creation and natural events).
The above is one aspect or dimension of the concept “freedom of choice”. Another important dimension are our “natural inborn attributes” or our natural state of beingness, which relate to our experiences of the “placing the stones principle”. The more traumatic events - as in the above example - actually contribute very little to the illusion that we don't have any choices in life. The major contributor and sustainers of this illusion or belief, are the little jackal trap and incident-isolation trap, which in turn might raise the following crucial questions…
The answer to the above series of questions is loud, clear and definite NO! Because… despite any assessment result or predictions to the contrary, we are still in charge and control of our own human energies and ultimately our own destiny.
Assessments results are merely an additional source of information and a “handy tool” of analysis, that can be utilized to facilitate self-improvement, self-development and growth. When using assessments as an “analysis tool”, we can use different kinds of “instruments” to explore various dimensions of our own character, to recognize or highlight certain beliefs, behaviours and perceptions that might be dominating and/or derailing our life at the present moment.
For example… Duty Fulfiller's personality archetype dominated individuals, might realizes that they are a bit crotchety and a loner, and may DECIDE to make more of an effort to be more social by joining a club or extent his/her social interaction via Facebook, for example. Administrator's (ENTJ) archetype dominated personalities, might realize that they are arrogant and self-serving and DECIDES to reach out and pay more attention to their loved ones, family and friends. The adventuresome Doer's (ESTP) archetype, might realize that others find him/her detached and disinterested and could set aside some time to really get to know at least one person quite well. Therefore, “taking the good with the bad and then emphasizing the good” or “working on the thing that your are presently lacking” is first of all… still your personal choice and secondly implies taking responsibility for those things that you CAN CONTROL and do something about.
When we were born Nurturer's (ISFJ), it does not imply that we are doomed to being seen as shallow or unfaithful for our entire lives. It is merely a “billboard hint” that we might want to work on these issue and would rather focus our energies on being more steady and loyal.
When interpreting assessment results, there are often dualities at work. If it comes to assessing the quality of personality, characteristics and/or attributes, a lot of assessment results are “double coined” in nature… meaning that what is a blessing in a particular context, also could be a curse in another context. For for example… When it comes to the Inspirer's (ENFP) archetype's tendency or trait to relate to a large number of individuals at once… it is a blessing when it comes to having one's talents recognized on stage, but… a real curse when it comes to romance. Because, Inspirer's often finds themselves in the middle of romantic triangles. However, when taking responsible choices and being aware of this aspect, each inspirer can exercise his/her free will (i.e. freedom of choice) to work on him-/herself by limiting the so called “in born” tendency to charm the pants off the opposite sex… especially when s/he is already attached to someone special.
Just how does assessment results, for example, actually relate to our “freedom of choice”?
Basically, assessment instruments and subsequent results is a “tool” that analysis and uses different combinations of results calculated to provide some clues as to our character, strengths, weaknesses, natural talents, attributes, interests, abilities, motivations, competencies, purpose in life, our destiny, …etc. Thus, assessment results merely identify or highlight some prominent aspect or facets of our present dynamic system of energy channeling and beingness.
Does assessments have any value, in light of our “freedom of choice”?
The roots of assessing individuals, dates back thousands of years and many variations of “assessment descriptors” can be found in most cultures throughout human history (e.g. astrology, numerology, psychology, IChing, …etc.). Various forms of assessments - especially self-assessments - throughout the ages were quite popular, because assessments make us aware of something “out of balance or context”, or rather, “not yet in harmony”. And YES, when assessment results or predictions are ignored or left unattended, it will probably “predict the future”, quite accurately. However, that's not to say that everything that an assessment report tells us is cast in stone and that we HAVE to do things in a particular manner (i.e. we are just born that way and could do nothing about it). As a matter of fact (as driven by personal choice), we could decide to make some changes in our lives and to align ourselves with our natural energies. In doing so, we might be pleasantly surprised at how everything seems to improve miraculously, how things seems to fall naturally into place and we find the elusive we have been seeking for.
When we interpret assessment result contextually, it actually enhance our “freedom of choice” and assist us to regain control over our lives once again.
Used appropriately – to enhance and develop and not to judge and categorize - assessment results can help to “free” us from our perceived limitations that we may have, and which often prevents us from becoming the best person that we can be. Because, assessment results could help us to become aware of our weaknesses, alert us to our strengths and “warn” us when we are steering our lives in the wrong direction and/or are derailed by our thought and perceptions about reality. Assessments of any kind, any SWOT-analysis for that matter, does not restrict our freedom of choice, it actually allows us to exercise a more informed “freedom of choice”, mainly because of our raised levels of awareness and understanding the dynamic combinations of our own symbiotic energy system.
We always have a “freedom of choice”; NOT always in terms of what may or may not happen to us, BUT the manner in which we deal with (either respond to or react to) what happens! Thus, the essence of our free will is what we CHOOSE to pay attention too.
we do not have free choice over the consequences of our actions and behaviours.
in an interrelated, interdependent and dynamic world, the consequences of our choices and actions are fixed.
Everything we do are based on the choices we make. It's not our parents, our past relationships, our job, the economy, the weather, an argument or our age that is to blame. YOU and only YOU are responsible for every choice you make and decision you take… period!
According to Petter Johansson and Lars Hall - the Swedish experimental psychologists, who originally came up with the term - people often fail to notice glaring mismatches between their intentions and outcomes, while nevertheless being prepared to offer introspectively derived reasons for why they chose the way they did“.
To put this in a day-to-day perspective, what this means is that not only do we frequently not notice when we are presented with something different from what we truly want; we will actually come up with reasons to defend our choice taken and decision made. Something that is particularly dangerous and unwise , especially when dealing with complex decisions and wicked problems.
As a matter of fact, we actually don't fully understand> the inner workings of our mind and thanks to choice blindness we have little to no awareness of the choices we do make and why we've made them. Just something to keep in mind the next time you have an important decision to make.
Essentially, what the paradox of choice implies, is that the more choices we have, the less free our choices are and the more unwise our decisions becomes. Also manifesting as choice , which - in itself - is a phenomenon that makes us quite miserable and - most of the time - let us feel powerless.
The main question still remains: whether having no.. some.. or plenty.. of choices is a good thing? A very difficult question to get clear-cut answers too, especially when one considers the following…