Denise Berger, Ed.D.
Leadership Culture Impact
We are complex creatures, indeed! And, we make complex decisions every day. And these decisions are not only driven by external influences, but also driven by internal centers that enter dominance, depending on the issue. These internal centers represent our layers of depth and the breadth of capacity to make choices for this world too. If we enter into decision-making with greater awareness for these different internal "masters" we can build greater resiliency into the decisions we make, thus leading to greater sustainability and impact. The Decision-Making circle above leans on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, one of the greatest frameworks. I have taken this framework on needs as the basis of decision-making, and I use the circular pattern as a visual representation of what it means to "dig deep," "go inward," "soul search," and in general, find deeper levels of consciousness.
The outer ring represents the basic decision around having enough any kind of sustenance to stay alive. Our body needs fuel. Food and water and warmth are the most basic, primal needs. The second ring is about having enough collateral to be able to feel secure, and have a sense of safety that allows us to develop into industrious beings in society. Often, this layer is also associated with satiating the body's needs, some required, some nice-to-haves, and some hedonistic. The required parts that drive decision-making are inter-changeable with the most outer survival layer. The third driver of decision-making touches on wanting to be accepted, loved, feel love and give love. This third ring is not mutually exclusive to the preceding rings. In fact, some of the decisions of the heart come from our body. Things that make us feel good about ourselves - exercise, sex - most of the time help us to connect with others and definitely are driven by a fulfillment of physiological needs as well. All of these rings play on each other; they are not mutually exclusive. What matters here is building the awareness as to which part is being dominant in a particular decision.
Now, the heart center begins to get us into some deeper thoughtfulness in the process of making decisions. The heart has a powerful pull toward more emotional, yet longer-term decision-making (versus the body center that is a shorter-term driver. Yet, the heart center is often unstable. Decisions from the heart lead us toward marriage instead of a life of indiscriminate sex. Decisions from the heart lead us to care deeply about someone, send a card, give a gift and make someone else feel good. However, decisions from the heart can also be dangerous. We feel sad and so we decide to to skip exercise or eating. We can't stomach it, but our body needs sustenance. Yet, the heart overrides the body center. Anger. Anger makes us want to throw something, possibly injure another person and "make them feel our pain." Well, in these cases, we hope that the mind center kicks in....
The mind is naturally the place where logic and methodology reside. An angry heart might want to lash out at a person, make a person who committed an offense pay for it, maybe cause us to do something harmful. If the mind center is activated, though, reason and logic will step in. We have all experienced making decisions from the mind center. Deciding to be responsible at a party and turn in early the night before a major presentation is the mind center activating over the body and heart centers, right? And here is another important point. This resiliency in decision-making is represented in a circular pattern to emphasize the fluidity of these circles. The lines between each are not hierarchical and the different centers are connected. Decision-making in the aggregate is a matrix link between the centers. Becoming consciously aware of these drivers can help you to appreciate what center is exactly activated the most when you are making choices. The more difficult or complex the choice, the more important it is to understand what is being activated internally.
The final ring represents the deepest center of decision-making. Often, it is the hardest to access, and yet, it is where our optimal decisions reside. This is "digging deep". If this center is activated, decisions are holistic, authentic, true to your character and core values. It is from here that the most considerate, humble, peaceful, ethical, loving, sincere, satisfying, universally-beneficial, and sensical decision-making emanates. On any given day, we make thousands of decisions. Some are made without even realizing it. Our routines put us into auto-pilot. To practice soulfulness means to be more aware, more cognizant of the interplay between the all the internal drivers within yourself. Activating the soul center means accepting imperfection, vulnerability, compassion, calm. It serves to build higher levels of consciousness, mindfulness toward meaningful impact, and resiliency of purpose.
Resiliency in Decision-Making
"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."
- Robert McKee