Here’s The Thing

Things do happen and situations develop that neither I nor anyone else could have anticipated or planned for. Life does have its random elements. Even so, for me and for other lucky folks like me, the likelihood of experiencing one of those random elements that I can’t manage or at least recover from is quite low. Nonetheless, the possibility is always there.

Unfortunately, for other people, the likelihood of random events or circumstances that they can’t manage or recover from is significantly higher. Why? They don’t have the resources or life experience that make me and others like me less vulnerable. There really is a fundamental unfairness that disadvantages some of us more than others of us.

It’s important for me to emphasize the point that infrequently there is no outline, no way of knowing how to proceed. The truth of this is real and unfairly disadvantages some of us more than others of us. This harsh reality not withstanding, my interest here is on choices and decisions I make and not so much on the randomness and chaos that rarely is at play for me and others like me. My point relates to those times when I knowingly and intentionally choose to ignore the outline, disregard advice or guidance from people who have relevant experience and expertise, choose to listen to my intuition and judgment, those times when I think I know best, whether others agree or not.

Here’s The Thing

When I ignore the outline, don’t keep it between the lines, decide that I know best, I don’t proceed willy-nilly. I still need to know where the lines are that I need to keep between, what my personal guidance tells me I should do and should avoid. This is not the same as an action plan or knowing what specific steps I will take. Rather, it’s the template I always use when I have decided that I know best, know better than those who might advise me. I like to think of this as judgment mediated by experience.

There are a few elements in my When Taking a Chance Template that are not open for debate. They have no preferred order or priority. They just are what they are.

The status quo does not have a warranty. I have no assurance that things won’t change unexpectedly or adversely.

My status quo is organized and functioning perfectly to get the outcomes I am getting, no more, no less, for better or worse.

Circumstances and conditions necessarily change over time. I have no alternative but to adjust to and deal with those changes.

Before I make any significant changes or finalize any important decisions, I need to know the worst possible outcome and how I will deal with it if it happens.

Before I make any significant choices or important decisions, I need to know the likelihood of success and the potential harm or risk for me and for others in my circle.

There is a critical difference between managed risk and gambling.

Irreversible choices or decisions rarely have to be made right now. There is time to think about it. If I am feeling pressure to choose or decide immediately, my default response is, “No.”

Never discount the echo effect of choices and decisions, especially those that don’t work out as hoped. This means that negative outcomes frequently spawn negative outcomes which in turn spawn negative outcomes. It can sometimes take a long time for the repercussions to extinguish.

Here’s The Thing

Making choices and decisions is not optional. Situations come up, circumstances develop, things happen. The river keeps flowing. We could just not make choices, could decline to decide. We could let ourselves and others in our circle drift wherever the currents take us. Of course, that would itself be a choice, a decision of sorts. Not an attractive option for me, but still a choice, a decision option.

Since not choosing or not deciding aren’t actual options, I prefer my judgment mediated by experience. I consider my options and opportunities and then bring out my decision template. Keeping the process inside the parameters of the template, I fall back on my judgment and experience to come up with what I think is the best choice or decision I can make at the time. At that point, it’s time to take a deep breath and follow through with what I think is best for me and for the others in my circle.

If things work out okay – and they usually do – all is well. If not, I already know what I’ll do to manage that contingency. That possibility was covered in my decision template.

Here’s The Thing

All there is for me — or anyone else for that matter — is to do my best to do my best. Most of the time, I keep it between the lines, counting on the experience and wisdom of others. But now and then, I believe that I need to move out on my own, depending on my judgment mediated by experience to keep me between the lines I’ve defined for myself.

Is that a perfect strategy? Does it always get the outcomes I want and expect? Is my strategy the best there can be? Am I an expert at keeping it between my lines? No, but I’m getting better and better at doing better and better. I think that’s about as good as it ever gets.

Now you know, so there you go. Trust your judgment mediated by your experience. It’s your best shot at success.