Thinking about your future as you prepare to vote

As we move into the election cycle once again, it seems prudent to re-post some notes on Thinking. I recently wrote a very small book that encompasses an entire day’s seminar: Thinking About Thinking. I made it cell-phone sized so our electronically connected public would be willing to carry it around for a ready reference, even when they didn’t have enough bars to connect.

So, before you go into that booth to vote, ask yourself if you are voting from Confirmation Bias. That is the tendency to only hear those things that support your preconceived notions about the world. How about this little brain exercise, no matter what your political persuasion. Suppose for just a moment that everything you believe to be true is wrong. What can you read or research outside your normal newsfeed to determine whether or not that statement is true?

Then ask yourself if you are living under Normalcy Bias – that is the illusion of, “It has always been this way, it will continue to be this way until I die.” That goes hand in hand with history blindness: “History began 50 years before I was born.” What are the unintended consequences of the decisions you are making today?

Beth with PJ O’Rourke

PJ O’Rourke famously wrote in “A Parliament of Whores” that many of the well-intended changes made by people actually made things worse. One such example is the ban on shooting cute little mountain lions in California. Without any natural enemies, those Mountain Lions began to decimate the Big Horn Sheep population in some sectors and started showing up in subdivisions and on school grounds. Another such good intention gone awry was recycling newspaper. Before the advent of organic and soluble inks, people actually caused a bigger problem by recycling newspapers into more paper. What it created was a pile of toxic ink that had a half life of – I don’t know – 500 years? (I’m exaggerating) That, of course, forced the intelligent invention of more earth friendly inks, but you get the point.

Not all good ideas are as good as you think they are if you take the long view.

Which brings me to the questions to ask yourself as you analyze the glut of decisions you need to make in that polling booth on November 4th. When you read your Facebook Feed or anything else, ask a few questions. My theme for the Thinking About Thinking Book is the Kaleidoscope Effect™” Nothing is as it seems and everything has another side to it.”

Here are a couple of classic questions that will help you make wise decisions in that voting booth and every day. See the book for more examples:

  • What are you doing?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • What do you expect to happen?
  • What are possible unintended consequences of this action?
  • What are long term consequences of this action? Short term?
  • To what end are you doing this?
  • Is it important?
  • Is it an emotional decision?
  • What will it take?
    • cost
    • time
    • energy
    • distraction
    • people
  • What will it take to undo it if it isn’t right?

None of us can predict the future, but if we think clearly about it, we may be able to help shape it.

Whatever you do, get out there and exercise your right to make a difference!

God Bless America!


© 2014 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved

About Beth Terry

Beth Terry, CSP, is a speaker, coach, writer and cowgirl. Her audiences are from around the world: she has spoken to almost half a million people in 6 countries. Her passion is watching the "popcorn popper" go off in people's heads when they 'get it.'

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