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Making Decisions On The High Road


Blind men and an elephant

Blind men and an elephant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you think about the myriad decisions you have to make each day, you may want an expanded, intelligent basis for making better choices. Understanding and leveraging humility, perception and trust may be the best way to navigate life’s decisions and achieve the outcomes you desire. The alternative is being told what to do by others and/or making poor choices impulsively, without thinking things through.

The classic story of the “blind men and an elephant” illustrates the need for open-mindedness to understand different perspectives and comprehend the basis of choice. The story also provides insight into the relativity of perception and the nature of truth.

The theme is that a group of blind men are instructed to touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each blind man feels a different part and they compare notes. One feels the tusk and says it’s a pipe, another feels the tail and says it’s a rope; the one who touches the leg says it’s a pillar; still another, who feels the belly, says it’s a wall and so on. They learn that their experiences differ greatly. After intense and heated disagreement, a wise King explains that all the blind men are right because they touched different parts of the elephant and the elephant possesses all the characteristics described. In actuality, the blind men came to know much more about the nature of an elephant that most people from the entire process. They focused on one aspect and shared their perspectives to construct a more expansive picture with the help of the King. They not only knew about the content of an elephant, they also came to know the essence and context of an elephant. The combination of this knowledge becomes, metaphorically, significant and valuable.

Humility

Recognize that there is more going on around you than you perceive. You cannot possibly collect enough accurate observations and data to form a complete picture of anything. The awareness of this truth opens your mind to ask revealing questions, helps you go beyond first impressions and encourages you to investigate the perceptions of others. Remember the story about the blind men and the elephant.

Perception

Everything is a continuum of infinite relativity and interpretations. One person may say 100° Fahrenheit is hot, but a steel maker will say that 1,000° Fahrenheit is not hot enough to melt all the metallic ingredients to make the desired alloy. A mother may say that standing on the third rung of a stepladder is too high and scary, but an astronaut on the moon may say she wants the exhilaration of going still higher.

Mother Teresa gave selfless service to the hungry, poor and sick people on the streets of Bombay; a bank robber may value stealing from others and then decide to give it up and move to the next level of being a responsible citizen.  Each person here is evolving to higher levels of values and behavior. The point is that everyone is doing the best they can in their environment, given their state-of-mind and available knowledge. The moral of these examples is to suspend judgment of others and to focus on your own life. Suspend judgment of yourself as well and move on to the next level of being the best person you can be.

Trust (Yourself and Others)

Sometimes you simply have not lived long enough to accumulate adequate experiences from which to draw wisdom in certain situations. You can, however, use knowledge of other people’s struggles, failures and successes as a basis for making better personal decisions.

Trusted advisors are not necessarily people who have made all the right choices. Great lessons can be learned from people who have made poor decisions and failed. Also, select people you admire and ask yourself what they would do in the situation. These may be people you interact with in your daily life or familiar individuals whose stories and lessons you can learn and absorb from great books, magazines, newspaper articles, movies, lectures and talks, internet or television.

In summary, blending and leveraging humility, perception and trust leads to highest levels of making decisions, solving problems and living life to the fullest.

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This entry was posted on September 14, 2011 by in Personal and tagged , , , , , , , .

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