Note from Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family: I recently had the privilege of being a guest on Kevin Monroe’s Higher Purpose podcast. Kevin believes people who find and fulfill their God-given higher purpose have more fun, experience greater fulfillment, and make the world better and brighter for everyone else.
It is those beliefs that energize his work as an executive coach, leadership consultant, and keynote speaker; today, he’s our Ziglar Family guest blogger. I know you’ll find some real food for thought in Kevin’s musings about the way we may be incorrectly approaching our decision making.
Zig Ziglar was a master observer of life and framed profound truths in practical and powerful ways. Here’s one brilliant observation that many in the modern world seem to have missed or been losing their grip on:
“Your life is a result of the choices you have made. If you don't like your life, start making better choices.”
Let’s explore one essential element to making better choices — and it doesn’t matter whether the decision currently looming large in your life has to do with work, family, faith, finance, or any of the key areas of life.
It is equally relevant for every member of your family, whatever decision-making role you find yourself in at this exact moment, and whatever decision you are currently considering.
Perhaps it’s one of these for you right now:
- Maybe you’re a parent making decisions affecting the whole family — like whether or not to take that new job.
- Or maybe you’re a son or daughter making decisions for your aging parent — do we put Grandma in an assisted living facility or keep her at home?
- Maybe you’re a high school student considering whether you go to the college your parents attended or go the school of your dreams?
- Or maybe you’ve got young children at home, and you’re wondering if it’s better to enroll them in public school or private school?
- Or maybe it’s something altogether different.
What do you need to make better choices? Well, there’s one thing common to all of the above-listed scenarios that often impedes our ability to make better choices.
Do you see it?
It’s subtle, yet significant. Embedded in each of these scenarios is a snare, preventing us from making what might be the best decision.
Technically, it’s a false dilemma.
A false dilemma occurs when you narrowly frame a broad issue that has many possible options and answers into a binary choice and limit the range of answers to a simple either-or choice.
It’s almost impossible to make better choices when you have narrowly framed the issue to choose between option A or B and eliminated a wide range of other possible scenarios and answers.
When was the last time you found yourself choosing between two options and not truly being happy with either option?
It happens frequently. For some, it happens all of the time (or at least it seems that way).
But the truth is, rarely are there only two options for any major decision.
Here’s what illuminated this idea of false dilemmas for me recently. Several times over the course of a week, I heard multiple business leaders intoning a certain phrase from today's pop culture as though it is the hidden wisdom of the ages.
Obviously, you’re familiar with it. Perhaps you’ve even said it. I certainly have. Let me tee it up before revealing the phrase.
Imagine this scenario — you’re sitting around the table (boardroom, kitchen, or other) pondering a major decision. Should we do X or Y?
The stakes are high. The discussions are tense.
Much is riding on making the right decision.
The success or failure has extreme consequences for your company, career, or family.
It seems that the team is at an impasse, and suddenly someone passionately shouts, “We should GO BIG OR GO HOME!”
There it is. That’s our answer. We must go BIG. Now. We certainly don’t want to go home.
Are we taking a phrase most likely born out of the surfing culture of the 80’s and touting it as the wise words of Plato or Socrates?
Are those the only options you have? You can either go big or go home?
Besides, when you phrase it like that, it sounds like home is a bad place to go.
In their book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, co-authors Chip and Dan Heath labeled the false dilemma as narrow framing and called it the “first villain of decision making.”
I agree. I think Zig would too.
So, what are you to do the next time you are faced with a major decision?
If you are intent on making better choices that lead to a better life for you and your family, then join me in this decision-making challenge.
For the next 30 days, whenever you feel stuck choosing between only two options:
- Press the pause button,
- Step back for a moment,
- Take a deep breath,
- Say a prayer, and invite God’s wisdom to illuminate the situation and all of your choices.
Remember, God loves for us to turn to Him and seek wisdom — James, the brother of Jesus penned these words: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him or her ask God who gives generously to all” (James 1:5).
Then, consider if you are caught in a false dilemma.
Have you narrowly framed a complex issue as a binary choice and limited your options to an either-or situation when there are far more options from which you can choose?
If so, reframe the question to eliminate the either-or, and expand your range of possibilities. In light of our current situation and circumstances, what is the wise thing to do?
That’s one big step towards making better choices.
The next time someone suggests that you either “go big OR go home,” just look at that person and smile as you realize the false dilemma he or she has created. And whisper a prayer of thanks that you now know the best way for you to go BIG in life is in fact to go home, and start there.
Do you have any choices that you're currently struggling with? How can you expand your options to recognize that you may have more options than you're currently considering? Share your thoughts below!
You can learn more about Kevin Monroe and his work at kevindmonroe.com.