Monday, September 6, 2021

Dear Dave: How do you make decisions?

Dear Dave:

What was a decision you’ve had to make which was one-of-a-kind?  Marriage, job, relocation, retirement, divorce, major vacation - etc.   Did you actually think it through, weighing the pros and cons of all sorts ?  Did you ask the advice/opinion of friends and family? Did you just go with the flow and take the first job, proposal, house, or whatever? 


Dear Becky:

Most of the important decisions I have made in my life I made alone. I asked for advice, opinions, thoughts, feedback and most of it was wrong.image.gif Several of the more authoritative people giving me advice not only were wrong, but dead wrong in retrospect which goes to show me that decisions made by groups often are wrong.

In his book Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche wrote, “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it’s the rule.” In other words, wisdom can go out the window when individuals form groups.  When we’re solo, we’re usually rational: en masse, not so much.

Reading the current news should give one pause. Was it a good idea to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Were there weapons of mass destruction? Was Covid-19 over in the Spring of 2020 when the weather warmed up. Is it lifesaving to get the Covid-19 vaccine? And I'm sure you can come up with examples of your own when you and your family, community, state were led astray by the group.

I agree with Nietzsche that alone people make better decisions than when they are in groups. Have I ever been wrong when I made a lone decision? Yes, many times, and I always learned from it and made better decisions the next time I was in similar situations.

The Solomon Asch experiments and the Stanley Milgram experiments, two classics in Social Psychology, are very instructive.

Once again I was wrong to say that I usually make important decisions alone. 

I pray about them. 

I attempt to discern God's will for me and for the world.  I ask myself, if I do this or that, is it more likely or less likely that I will become the person that deep down in my heart I believe God has created me to become. Further, if I do this or that is it more likely or less likely that I will do with my life what God is calling me to do?

Lastly, to keep it simple, I ask the question "What would Love have me do and then go from there."


David Markham

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