Discernment The Lost Element
Are you caught in a "rush trap"? A "rush trap" happens when you feel you need to make decisions before you are ready. It occurs when we feel pressure from our boss, colleagues, customers or from our own anxiety to "make a decision now!" When faced with this predicament I always asked: "What will happen if we don't make the decision right now?" The answer led me to believe that the end of the world wasn't at hand, the business wouldn't fail or we wouldn't lose the customer. We still had time to stop and to discern the best approach. Discernment, however, may be becoming a lost practice in today's fast paced world.
Our race to make quick decisions has exponentially increased with the advent of email, text messages, cell phones, and instant access to information. If we don't answer emails right away, the telephone starts ringing from our colleagues or customers asking about the email they just sent, and what are we going to do about it. Just a bit more pressure, right? Not too long ago we used to send and receive memos and letters by "snail mail." The mail service gave us enough time to frame an appropriate response because we knew it wouldn't go out until the next day. Today's business environment dictates a more immediate response. And this will not slow down soon as the use of technology to interact with those important to us will continue to increase for the next several years.
Often we react to this pressure by sending emails followed up by more emails. For example I have received emails as well as sent them with only partial information. Now what happens? I either send more information to clarify my first email or recant the first email and send a different response reflecting a change in the decision. All resulting in confusion or increased scepticism down the line.
Why do we put ourselves in this position? Is technology governing us or do we govern technology? It's time to get back in control of the decision-making process.
What to do: According to Wisdomcommons discernment is: "the ability to grasp, comprehend and evaluate clearly..." When we discern we seek to make the best possible judgement with the information we have at the time. Sometimes the issue is quite complicated and we need more reflective time or to call upon a higher power before we decide. I have found that working through a difficult decision with prayerful and reflective silence has a settling effect on the decision-making process. It calms the mind and allows me to respond with greater clarity. Take time to discern an appropriate response when called upon to make difficult decisions - even when pressured by others.
Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC, Updated from the archives Fontanie Learning Solutions.
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