By Mark D. Bennett
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Additional resources for A Field Guide to Good Decisions: Values in Action
Carl Schurz When we switch off a light at night, it takes our eyes a minute or two to adjust to the darkness. If we leave a lighted room and step outside, chances are we can’t spot the North Star or a favorite constellation right off the bat. The first bright star we see will eventually recede into a maze of glitter. Then, as our eyes adjust, we begin to orient ourselves. So it is with decision-making. As our emotions shift and our minds adjust, we take time to focus on the important values, those with steady luminescence.
To move toward dialogue, we must first break the destructive habit of speaking in serial monologues. Typically, when someone is speaking in a charged exchange about an important decision, others are not listening but waiting to speak. They are waiting to make a point, rehearsing what they want to say, or mentally critiquing the speaker’s point. All of these natural activities undermine the exchange of meaning that is critically important for communicating values effectively. Participants speak in isolation.
We hear the ticking of the decision-making clock and realize that we can’t please everyone or honor every important value. Here is where it is essential to resist the urge to rush to a swift and superficial conclusion. Instead, we must pause to assess all that we’ve discovered in our investigation. This is our opportunity to focus on a few values that have the greatest weight—the guiding values that will orient our decision-making. This chapter describes the third challenge on the road to a good decision: determining what matters most and committing to it.