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3 Steps to Better Decision Making

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Every day we are asked to make decisions. Some are of little consequence while others can literally change our lives and the lives of others. When those important questions arise, we can find it difficult to choose. We might feel paralyzed by an overload of input from others, or we might feel as though there is no clear ‘right’. So, are there ways a mindful leadership practice can help? Let’s look at 3 Steps to Better Decision-Making:  

Stop and Unplug
In a time when we are constantly tempted to divide our attention, it is important to cultivate your ability to focus your mind on the question to be decided. Good decision-making needs us to quiet our busy mind and body so we can open to all the ways of knowing available to us. Removing the external distractions is a good way to start. Turn off the technology and find a quiet place to focus on your breath for a few moments. When your mind becomes distracted, redirect it back to your breath. Feel yourself settling into the moment.

Define the question
It may not be what you think. One way of defining the question is to begin by calling to mind the issue or situation, and asking a more general question first: ‘what is called for now?’ In other words, step back from the specific question to one that is a little broader or more general. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to the precise answer to a narrower question. The smaller answer may be just that…small, rather than creative or breakthrough or compassionate.

Reflect
Once you begin to feel your body and mind settle into the present moment and you have defined the question, it is time for the final step-reflection. This is not analysis, or even thinking. It is approaching the question with open curiosity. Allow there to be some spaciousness around the question so the answer or answers can arise, generated by your inner wisdom. No need to go searching, the answer(s) will come to you. This decision-making reflection is also an opportunity for you to practice patience. Sometimes it may take a few dedicated reflections with your question to discover the answer. You already have everything you need to make those important decisions and the more you practice with this approach, the more confidence you will gain in your capacity to choose.

“For Better or Worse” Leadership

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“Leader” is one of those words that seems to remain undefined, regardless of how many people write about it, or speak about it. We can come up with names of management books or self-help books that purport to make us “great leaders.” Our organizations may have elaborate assessment tools that measure leadership effectiveness. But, what exactly do we mean? Who is a leader? What do we mean when we say someone is a “great leader”?

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Minding Politics

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It’s that time again: Every four years Americans splash about in a pre-electoral pond to help decide who will lead the country. The campaign process can seem part shouting match, part popularity contest, and part poll driven exercise in polarizing the population. Sometimes it just seems like people throwing rocks to see how big a wave they can make.

What it doesn’t generally seem like is an opportunity to ponder what leadership means, or how we might recognize excellence in it. That’s because excellence in leadership comes from a quiet place, and quiet places don’t feed the news cycle the way contentiousness does.

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