From Polarization to Unity: A 13-Step Journey to Wise Decision Making

Wise and comprehensively considerate decision-making is desperately needed in these times where lies and unhinged conspiracy are taken as fact. Here are 13 Steps to guide you towards the better world we know is possible and want to be a part of:

1. Present the scenario in context. Everything has a context. Depending on the context, the decision may be different. For example, a context of extremely scarce resources differs from a context of abundant resources. A context of highly educated citizens differs from a context of poorly educated citizens.

2. Ask this question:

How open is my mind on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being completely open?

3. Ask this question:

How open is my heart, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being completely open?

4. If the honest answer to your openness in Q 2 and 3 is 0-2, what needs to happen for your mind and heart to be open for a plus 5 or 6?

You must take the necessary actions to open your mind and heart, before making a wise decision.

NOTE: Being as open as a ten might not be healthy. Too porous, and we might be easily manipulated, spell cast or seduced. A healthy dose of scepticism is valid. The aim is to be between 7 and 8 in openness.

5. Actions to take when you have a closed mind.

Examine the reason you are closed. Write or speak to all the beliefs, positions, backgrounds, stories and other things you might have. Be forensic in your examination of these.

  • Are they true?
  • How do you absolutely know they are true?
  • Is the ‘how you know they are true’ based on hearsay, third-party information, an ‘expert’, part of the story of your family, tribe or community, or something else?

Approach this enquiry with curiosity.

If you can take a belief and hold it in the possibility that it is based on untruths, you have opened your mind.

6. Actions to take when you have a closed heart.

Look at the pain, fear, emotion, rejection, anger, and protection.

  • Why is it there?
  • What are its origins?
  • Can you identify them?
  • If you change your mind and heart, will the cost be your rejection by your tribe or in-group?
  • Will the change in mind require you to face the shame of admittance of a belief that you have been fierce to protect till now?
  • Will the change in mind or heart mean that everything you have invested in maintaining this belief might now be experienced as a sunk cost?

Until your heart and mind are open, we do not proceed.

This may take days, weeks, months or years. If you decide with a closed mind and/or heart, know that the decision is steeped in fundamentalism and righteousness. The lack of openness and curiosity will come at an extraordinary price for yourself and others. Take responsibility for that as you decide with a closed heart and mind.

7. Once we have an open heart and mind, at least on a scale of 4 to 6, we proceed with inquiry.

  • Who knows about this decision and body of work based on decades of work or lived experience?
  • What are their opinions?
  • What are their opinions based on?
  • What do they get from taking this position? Status, fame, title? Or do they care little for the limelight and seek truth as their primary impulse?
  • Consider multiple opinions, including divergent ones. They must come from people who have been in the field of the decision for at least eight to ten years. Why? Evidence shows that changing minds and worldviews takes five years if we are dedicated to exploration and being open. Someone who has seen years in the field where the decision needs to be made will have the opportunity over eight to ten years to refine their thinking.

8. Listen to perspectives with an open heart and mind. Notice when you contract or get into high-grade emotion – anger, fear, rejection. Put these feelings aside, notice and record them as you continue to listen.

You can return to these feelings afterwards and be forensic and curious in examining them, returning to Steps #5 and #6.

9. Once you have gathered all the information, go to the highest whole system perspective possible.

  • Consider how this decision will impact all involved, now and into the future.
  • Consider the future effects of the decision – one to seven generations hence.
  • Who will win if this decision is made?
  • Who will lose?
  • Will you be a loser, and if so, will you be in the majority or minority?
  • Will you be a winner? If so, why and how?

10. Consider the long-term consequences of this decision.

  • Do we really know the answer to this?
  • Is this conjecture?
  • Will the decision increase the well-being of Earth and all her creatures?

11. Based on all of this, does the decision need adaptation? Can the decision be made better? If so, how exactly?

12. Now, take a few days away from the decision. Allow the silt in your thinking to settle and the clear water to be present. Once it is, once your emotions are at peace, drop into your gut and consider your intuition.

  • What does it say?
  • Why do you feel this?
  • Can you explain it, or is it beyond explaining?
  • What would integrity decide?
  • What would love decide?
  • What would your grandchildren’s grandchildren decide if they had the chance to make this decision?
  • What would your future self decide?

13. Decide. You will know the decision is right for you because you will feel peace, no inner charge and a sense of grace for the responsibility of making this decision wisely. Start the process again if there is a charge, a lingering sense of righteous indignation, or entitlement.

I’d love to hear your experiences of applying this process to decisions as we collectively create more and more islands of coherence in our world.