Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Make a Decision--Stay out of Jail

Most young people who are jailed wound up in trouble with the law because they failed to make a decision.

They just went along with the decisions others made—others who made decisions to rob filling stations or beat up on that person they thought dised them. Not sure if that statistic still applies, since it was quoted in the ‘70s, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

One of the things I did in my checkered educational career was tape textbooks for blind students at the local community college, and it came from a social work text that belonged to a young man who was planning to counsel prisoners.

That text and this week’s prompt, added to a comment Hubby made on the way home from Panera (my favorite place for breakfast) on Monday, made me think about decision-making. It’s one of the most fundamental acts we have to learn to do—and do well—before we enter the adult world, yet nowhere are we taught how to do it. Possibly for that reason, many of the people I know whose lives are less than satisfactory have made a series of perhaps not bad, but not really good, decisions. I remember reading a magazine article once when I was a teen that suggested making a list of the good things and another of the bad things about any particular action we were considering. It helped, but it wasn’t enough. For one thing, it didn’t take into consideration others who would be affected by the decision.

The particular book I taped used a decision-making paradigm that consisted of concentric circles. In the “bull’s-eye” was the decision maker, the person who would be most affected by the result.

In the next circle, the decision makers put the names of those who would experience secondary effects from their decision: wives, children, parents….  In the third circle went the names of those who would suffer tertiary effects: close friends, co-workers… .THEN they made their columns, a pro column and a con column for each person.

No longer can you come to a decision because it makes you feel good. Now you have to think about all those who might suffer—or benefit—from your actions, and in what ways they might suffer or benefit. You might even be inspired to talk to them about it.

I think this paradigm is a much better approach to decision-making than any other I’m acquainted with, even though that’s all I can remember about it. It’s relatively simple, but forces the decision-makers to realize their actions have a ripple effect on their world and what those effects might be—unlike the old two-column method. 

Do schools now teach decision-making? What kind of paradigm do they use?