In 1958, Chairman Mao of China ordered all sparrows to be killed.
Destroying all nests, all eggs, all nestlings and all the sparrows in China – because they were eating some of the grain.
The first year it appeared to “work” as there was more grain. But the next year locusts became so prevalent that it wiped out entire crops.
As a direct result of his decision to kill the sparrows 36 MILLION people died of starvation in 3 years.
How often do we make decisions and take actions without thinking of the ultimate cost?
If we can begin to understand the ripple effect, we can begin now to be more conscious, more aware of what our decisions in this moment lead to in our future.
The planting of seeds is one of the best analogies to understand the deeper meaning behind our decisions. What we see in our life and our business is absolutely a direct result of seeds we have planted in the past.
Each decision, each action being a seed, what does your life look like today?
Is it one of joy, connection, success and health? Or is it filled with fear, turmoil, chaos and worry? These are not only the growth of the seeds we’ve planted along the way, but also the seeds that continue to sprout off shoots and spread into all areas of our life.
Here are the 5 steps you can take to make better decisions the first time, see if they might help you:
1. Attune your Awareness. I like to use the word pliable when I talk about awareness, as it is expandable and contractible depending on the individual circumstance. Ideally one would be looking for decisions aligned with the highest good and best outcome for the whole. Sometimes we need a more expandable awareness, thinking more long term, greater impact on the whole, etc. But we also need to be able to decipher when we have enough understanding to make a viable decision.
2. Engage in Imaging. One of the greatest gifts we have is the power to imagine. Dreaming and imagination opens us to possibility. It shows us what is more than just probable. However, spending so much time watching the product of another imagination in the form of media, video games, movies and even reading, we do not give ourselves the time and space to engage in our own imaging.
3. Find Your Focus. You will know you have found your focus when you feel unhurried and calm, joyful and the next action is crystal clear. Focus is the moment when you are whole and there is no longer a fork in the road.
4. Seek Supportive Support. Many times we find ourselves receiving what should be supportive when in fact it is a conglomeration of the machine that perpetuates prior poor decisions and prolongs actions that result in more harm. Unfortunately this collective mentality can get more band width in our awareness because we have not been equipped with filters yet (awareness helps in the filtering out).
5. Release what IS NOT working/Reinforce what IS working. When we feel cornered because of a previous poor decision, sometimes rather than giving it the heave ho, we try to make it work to prove it wasn’t such a bad decision in the first place. Take my hard earned experience, RELEASE what’s not working when you become aware that it’s time. This doesn’t give you carte blanche to set a flame to your lemon of a car, but the step of recognizing that a decision wasn’t the best and cutting losses allows you to move forward. And if you need to make up damage from the poor decision caused, so be it. These are not step 1 and 2 these are concurrent, so you also want to reinforce the decisions and the actions that ARE working, this is best done to balance the releasing of what’s not working. Then re-commit and establish a system to maintain the highest working results and continually monitor so it doesn’t take 3 (or 30) years before you release an unworkable decision.
Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions to create more room to build the success in our lives, our relationships and our businesses, when still full of hangups from the past. If I were suggesting action steps to help, I’d say this:
1. Cultivate awareness daily through a meditation practice, quiet time or just walking in nature interruption free – one of my favorite ways to awaken.
2. Spend time daily imaging your life as you desire it to be, from your own origination. Imagine actually living from that space and imagine how if feels. This practice of engaging the imagination with awareness and intention can have a profound and lasting effect and actually rewire the past.
3. Practice focusing in on 1 object or focusing on your breath for a full cycle or at least 30 seconds. This is helpful in calming chaotic thoughts prior to making decisions and can prevent taking actions based on negative emotions that lead to harmful decision making.
4. With the first 3 steps integrated, getting and giving real support becomes more doable. As a result, you will cultivate the kind of ‘supportive support’ to make the best decisions for a positive, holistic and sustainable outcome.
5. Prioritize your life around the important decisions, actions and tasks that are working. Release the old patterns and poor habits and past decisions that are not working. Learn from it surely, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Release the wreckage. Reinforce the lesson.
These steps are symbiotic. Never complete, always evolving. Like natural cycles and interdependence on the WHOLE.
If you are like me, you recognize the far reaching effects of small decisions and hope your decisions make a long term positive impact, while also supporting your goals for today.