Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Decisive ... Hearing God's Voice

by Dale Shumaker

Decisive is about making better choices in life and work. The authors, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, describe a process using their WRAP formula:  widen options, reality test assumptions, attain distance and prepare to be wrong.

Most, when making decisions, encounter a choice, analyze options, make a choice and live with it.

Although villains face each of these phases. Villain one is we "narrow frame" our choices by limiting how we do go about them. Villain two is confirmation bias, where we accept confirmation for decisions based on biases we have. Villain three is that short-term emotions tempt us to make the wrong choices. Villain four is over-confidence about the future and how things will play out. 

They advocate that process matters more than analysis... by as much as a factor of six. A pros and cons process is too limiting; it won't correct these problems. The WRAP process will. 

Widen Your Options 
Reality Test Your Assumptions 
Attain Distance before Deciding 
Prepare to be Wrong 

Widen Your Options.

Learn to distrust "whether or not" decisions. Being too focused can cause us to not see other options. What if your current options disappeared. What would you then consider?
Compare alternatives and consider multiple alternatives. 
It keeps politics and ego's at bay. This is called multitracking. Always try to consider one or two extra choices beyond what you feel you have. Considering multiple choices simultaneously helps to shape the problem. If people on a team disagree on options, you then have real options. Toggle between prevention mindsets and promotion mindsets. A prevention focus avoids negative outcomes. A promotion mindset pursues positive outcomes. Push for "this And that," rather than "this Or that." 

When you look for options and feel stuck, look to someone who has solved your problem. Look out side... competitive analysis, best practices; look inside... your bright spots. Create a great decision playlist. The "what you did right" and "how you did it." It opens up new ideas. Why generate your own ideas when you can sample the world's buffet of options

Reality Test Your Assumptions.

Consider the opposite.
Watch out for confirmation bias where we seek out information that already favors our opinion, which is also self-serving.One exercise is to try to murder an idea to test its strength. Play devil's
advocate, the gong show game.
To gather trustworthy information we can ask discomforting questions. Try to come up with questions that that force ourselves to consider something opposite of our instincts. Test our assumptions with a deliberate mistake and see how it handles it. It takes discipline to challenge self-confirming information
Zoom out, zoom In.
Compare the inside view... what is in our heads... with the outside view... what is going on outside. The outside view is usually more accurate. Although most people gravitate to the inside view, what is in their heads.
What are the base rates... what usually happens in a given scenario. How far are you from these. Zoom in to examine the details to give it texture. The two are needed to balance the decision

Ooching is running small experiments to test our theories, rather than jumping in head first.  It slows the decision process down. In ooching we dip a toe in first.  Most are terrible at predicting the future. Entrepreneurs go out and try things, and then decide on the next steps based on  what they found out. Now, things that require commitment, like entering a college program, ooching is not the best plan. You don't take one class at a time and see what you want to do next. But when working with new people ooching is probably better... to try them out steps at a time, versus  trying to figure  them out if they will work out all up front. This makes a case for contracting with others on a short term arrangement. Ooching finds out first. Why try to predict when you can know. 

Attain Distance Before Deciding.

After reality testing your assumptions, many go ahead and make a decision. They feel it is time to choose. But what needs to be looked at is their feelings on the decision. Fleeting feelings tempt us to make decisions that are bad in the long term. To overcome distracting short-term emotions, we need to attain some distance.
One method is applying the 10/10/10 framework. Ask how you will feel about this decision 10 minutes from now, then what about 10 months from now, then what about 10 years from now. This tends to pull us out of the emotional side to a reality side.
Our decisions are often altered by two subtle short-term emotions: Mere exposure... we like what's familiar to us. Loss aversion... losses are more painful than gains are pleasant.  Look at it from someone else's perspective. What would our successors think?  Or ask  yourself, "What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?"  

Honor your Core Priorities.
Quieting short-term emotions won't always make a decision easy. Agonizing decisions are often a sign of conflict among your core priorities.
Core priorities: long-term emotional values, goals, aspirations. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of an organization do you want to build? The goal is not to eliminate emotion. It's to honor the emotions that count by identifying and enshrining core priorities. It is easier to resolve present and future dilemmas

Prepare to be Wrong. 

Our certainty about what will happen in the future is usually wrong. We really don't know.
Bookend the future.
Bookending is eliminating two different scenarios.  The dire scenario (the lower bookend), where things go badly for an enterprise. The rosy scenario(the upper bookend), where the enterprise gets a lot of breaks. It is looking at a range of possible outcomes from bad to very good.
To prepare for lower bookends, use a premortem. "It's a year later, our decision has failed. Why?" Prepare for the upper bookend of beyond belief success. Have a pre-parade. Will we be ready for success? What do we need to do now to be ready if it happens? 
To prepare for what is not foreseen, have a safety factor. Anticipating problems helps to cope with them if they occur. By bookending, anticipating and preparing for both adversity and success, stack the deck in favor of our decisions

Set a tripwire.
What can signal that we need to look at our decisions and make new ones. What can snap us awake to reconsider, that will grab our attention. Create an engine warning light.
Consider deadlines or partitions... where we hit a wall and we need to take a look. Tripwires can cap risks, quiet your mind until the trigger is hit. Many tripwires are patterns rather than dates/budgets... unexpected problems, unexpected success. They tell us we have a choice to make.  

Trusting the process
The most difficult way to make fair decisions is to involve as many people and get them to agree. To compromise is valuable in that it demonstrates you made use of diverse opinions. Most in business want decisions quickly, but you can't build consensus quickly.
Bargaining, horse trading, until all sides can live with the choice, makes for good decisions that
are fair. It is important to make sure those involved feel the decision is just. Trusting process is important. It isn't glamorous but the confidence it provides is precious. 

More at the Heath brothers' website. 

Hearing God's Voice. 

 When making decisions, we can ask God for direction. Many have wondered how to hear God's voice. Here are a few things to keep in mind

First, as believers we have the mind of Christ, when after time in  reading the Scriptures, listening to Worship music, I sense a keener feeling to hearing His voice.  The thoughts and ideas I get at these times I have taken them as direction from God's Spirit.

When I get an impression, and later on while still contemplating a decision, if I read something or someone shares something with me that re-enforces the impression I am getting in my mind, I take it as God's voice confirming what I am thinking. 

Another individual may share something with me and a phrase in what they say may jump out at me that relates to what I am thinking. I take that as God's voice.
The issue in many cases is confirmation. What I have learned to trust are the quiet times when contemplating while reading the Bible. In those moments, I take those as God speaking to me. The ideas and thoughts in those sessions, I have learned to trust and value. 
Here is an excerpt from what I wrote from my experience with a mentor I had on trusting God's voice.

Dr. Ashcroft always encouraged me to hear from Spirit directly and
trust the voice of Spirit through my mind...
To be bold, in what I was led by the Spirit Voice to do;
Use the Bible to double check to make sure it was consistent with Spiritual principle;
To follow my heart and not man's voices.

I have learned to read the Scriptures and trust the impressions I get from them. “That’s how God speaks to you, learn to trust that,” Dr. Ashcroft encouraged me. In this one area Dr. Ashcroft had the greatest impact on me. I struggled to believe that I could trust these impressions, ideas as from God. I always felt I had to defer these thoughts and find out what God was saying through someone else.  

 Also, here are a few more thoughts. 
--Hearing God's voice can sound like a series of spontaneous thoughts.
--Be still so you can sense God's flow of thoughts and emotions.
--Double check the emotions against the Bible... love, joy, peace, understanding,
etc. If they stir anger, strife, anxiety, you may want to re-examine the thought.
--Think of the character of Jesus and would this be something you would
hear from Jesus, His Spirit.
--Write out what you hear, and look at it later. God's voice will carry a Spirit
of genuineness and continue in a Spirit of excitement. It grows in stature
and significance and importance.  

 Some common ways God speaks to us are through The Bible (His Word), words of other people, circumstances and a message you get from them, and the notable still small voice. 
Being quiet and learning to listen is a skill to be developed where after several confirmations of hearing and knowing it is God's Spirit speaking, we learn to recognize the voice as His voice.

Again, it is in most cases He uses our mind and thoughts, and we learn to recognize when it is His voice speaking.