We are faced with hundreds of decisions every day. Get up now or hit the snooze button, what to wear, pack a lunch or buy? Some decisions are easy and we make them on autopilot.
Some decisions are much tougher, usually because they involve morality or other people’s feelings.
As we take stock this month and review this year and make plans for the next, I want to talk about a decision making tool I use.
I use this tool especially when the choices and answers aren’t clear cut: I look to the virtues, specifically truth, honour, courage, wisdom and beauty. There are many more virtues and they play a role, too, but these are the main ones that speak to me.
Look to the truth of the situation, the facts and the underlying reasons. Feel the emotion and recognize it for what it is. Recognize that you bring your own experience and prejudices to every situation. Appreciate them, but recognize that they shade the truth for you. Look beyond them.
Act always with honour. Consider what others such as your mother or your kids or your clients would think if they were to see you. We live in a transparent time. We don’t have the luxury of hiding any more. So act accordingly. Never say anything about a person you wouldn’t say to their face. Always be proud of your actions.
Doing the right thing takes courage. It may feel safer to give in to the easy path, but once the decision to do the right thing is made, you will experience a feeling of freedom, a feeling of strength and a feeling that the world is right. Courage isn’t about not feeling fear, it’s moving forward in the face of it. This is especially difficult when you believe that what you will say will hurt the other person. If you speak from a place of truth, honour, wisdom and love, they will know and appreciate what you have to tell them.
Wisdom is about using the lessons of the past and of the people around you and applying them to the current situation. It takes time and thought to access those lessons. But once accessed they are available for you from then on.
Yes, beauty. Here’s what Buckminster Fuller has to say about beauty, “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” There is symmetry, an ease, a trueness when you do the right thing that can only be characterized as beauty.
Have there been times when you followed the virtues despite being tough and it worked out well for you? Have there been times when you wished you had? What are your favourite virtues?