May 24, 2016 by Angus
Go Further With The Explorer’s Decision-Making Paradigm

Do you feel a great pressure when faced with decision-making?

Many of us do.

When making decisions, our choices often turn out against us in the short term. The dissatisfaction leads us to give ourselves a hard time.

I often think this decision-making scenario is like living in giant game of Snakes and Ladders.

Snakes and Ladders is a fun game for kids. But for adults, dealing with daily work stresses and performance anxiety, it’s no game to play.

Making decisions can become a nightmare.

We strive and strain to step on the ladders. Hopefully, we get onto the biggest ladders, taking us higher.

But at the same time, we’re terrified of stepping on a snake. Landing on a snake is making the wrong decision, causing us to slide backwards.

Fear overwhelms us. Danger looms. The catastrophe sits large, of falling back to square one.

Decision-making paralysis takes over.

We go nowhere.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

Overly Cautious & Blocked From Making Decisions

When this happens, often it makes us overly cautious in taking action. We need to be sure that the next step will lead to a ladder. Until we’re certain it’s not going to land us on a snake, we don’t act.

Convinced more time will help us in making decisions better, we delay.

We ruminate.

We research.

We wait.

We hope that, with a little more time, our more informed decision will guarantee a path to the ladder.

The net result is that we take less action. For every unit of time, we move less. Action can only happen for us when there’s a high degree of certainty.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the right “perceived” conditions will elude us.

This is a debilitating situation.

Changing The Way You Make Decisions

What if we changed our whole architecture of how we look at making decisions?

What if we took action differently?

Let me give you an example.

Imagine you’re a sports fan.

Now if I asked you, “who is the best basketball player in the world?”, you’d probably come up with a name.

You might find the question difficult to answer but it would appear to be a legitimate question.

If, however, I asked you who is the BEST explorer in history, you’d probably pause for a moment.

Note, here I’m not asking “who is the most famous explorer?”. I’m specifically asking, “who is the best?”.

This question might stop us in our tracks. A few names might pop into our head. But the list would be based on the fame of that explorer. Maybe you’d be tempted to Google the question for a list. Perhaps a movie you’d seen would pop into mind, suggesting a name.

But who really is the BEST?

This is a difficult, confusing and, perhaps, irrelevant question. Do we mean the explorer who has traveled the furthest? Or do we mean the explorer who has discovered the most remarkable landmark? Who happened to kill the fewest native inhabitants? Who suffered the greatest hardships and survived?

The possible answers to these questions are essentially endless.

Re-framing Decisions With The Explorer Paradigm

Now, let’s look at the act of exploration itself.

Imagine an explorer coming to a cliff face or stream they can’t cross. In our minds, we don’t hear them screaming and swearing with frustration.

Shouldn’t they have seen it coming? Perhaps!

But they are explorers. The unknown is part of their daily challenge. They pull out their notebooks and pencils to draw their map, including the new obstacle’s location. It will help them in the future.

The obstacle is just a landmark, not a threat. In fact, this landmark becomes a valuable source of knowledge, an invaluable addition to their journey.

Explorers are inherently courageous people. They have tenacity and curiosity. They’re faced daily with the challenge of critical decision-making. The act of exploring is the success. Failure doesn’t hold any real meaning. To know the territory better is a value in itself.

Nourish Your Own Explorer Mentality & Optimize Your Decision-Making Power

To nourish the explorer mentality in our own lives can allow us to be more bold. It can help us engage in the necessary uncertainty that is required to grow meaningful lives. We can live more in the way we’d like to. We could avoid having our self-esteem constantly on the line. All the challenging emotions that go with “attacks” on our self-esteem would be calmed.

Try to become an explorer, today.

Build up your determination for effective decision-making, now.

Become an explorer at work. Re-frame study as exploration, rather than a barrage of threatening exams. Take conversations and interactions with others as journeys into “foreign lands”. Ask more questions. Look at familiar things in different ways.

Experiment with this “life as explorer” idea. See what happens. Enjoy the surprises.

Live your life like an explorer.

You can’t fail.

… and, if you want a little help getting there, let’s talk.


Clinical Psychologist Sydney

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