A Time to Choose

14 “Now then,” Joshua continued, “honour the LORD and serve him sincerely and faithfully. Get rid of the gods which your ancestors used to worship in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and serve only the LORD. 15 If you are not willing to serve him, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living. As for my family and me, we will serve the LORD.”


I have become more concerned over the recent weeks that many of us do not have a concrete way of making decisions. Our choices can ultimately define who we are and what people perceive as our character, beliefs and attitudes. I believe some members of our community struggle to assess which choices are important and potentially life changing. After so many years at Faith, and continually talking about our greatest assets as having character and integrity, these are foundational on the fact that the choices we make are a measure of this. Often it can be the little things that end up defining us. These include showing respect for others, accepting others’ differences, the right for others not to agree with us, the ability for an individual to stand up for their personal beliefs, and at the same time, agreeing that codes of behaviour are in place for the overall wellbeing of a community -  this Faith Life Community.

 I have spent a difficult week trying to understand why we choose behaviours that put down others, judge others and isolate them from what should be a comfortable safe and supportive community to learn. This is where our bible verse is so critical. At a time in society when people struggle to find what they should believe, Joshua is encouraging us to accept the Lord. We can at least simplify this at Faith where we are expected to live out the behaviours Christ expects of us. And that is to love one another, to treat them the way we would like to be treated and to serve the Lord. Well, this service is to support, encourage and be a genuine part of our community. I pray we can each think about improving our service to the Lord through our most basic roles as humans. Communicating in a way that will always uplift or fairly guide and encourage others. Often we don’t think about the words we speak, but they hang in the air for those around us to decide the sort of person we are and the type of message they are giving. To all in our community, as we move into Thank You week acknowledgements next week, let us use this as a time to really check our communications and the words we share amongst those around us and make sure we give thanks to those who are there for us. Always supporting with words of encouragement and kindness, and even when we are hurt by someone, let us take the time to say we are sorry and reboot the relationships we may have broken.

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Don’t let your choices define you, let your actions and your words.

I include for you a simple process for making decisions. We do face making some difficult choices and this can be the reminder we need to take time and evaluate the outcomes from our choices. This process can pass through your mind in a few moments, so when we make choices with our words that may hurt others sometimes, don’t blame the fact you didn’t think. Process your thoughts -------then speak. Let’s all improve the tone, respect and our treatment of others in our school.

The important aspect is to go through all the stages in turn, even if only to decide that they are not relevant for the current situation.

1. Listing Possible Solutions/Options

To come up with a list of all the possible solutions and/or options available it is usually appropriate to use a group (or individual) problem-solving process. This process could include brainstorming or some other 'idea-generating' process.

This stage is important to the overall decision making processes as a decision will be made from a selection of fixed choices.

Always remember to consider the possibility of not making a decision or doing nothing and be aware that both options are actually potential solutions in themselves.

2. Setting a Time Scale and Deciding Who is Responsible for the Decision

In deciding how much time to make available for the decision-making process, it helps to consider the following:

·         How much time is available to spend on this decision?

·         Is there a deadline for making a decision and what are the consequences of missing this deadline?

·         Is there an advantage in making a quick decision?

·         How important is it to make a decision?  How important is it that the decision is right?

·         Will spending more time improve the quality of the decision?

Remember that sometimes a quick decision is more important than ‘the right’ decision, and that at other times, the reverse is true.

Responsibility for the Decision

Before making a decision, you need to be clear who is going to take responsibility for it.

Remember that it is not always those making the decision who have to assume responsibility for it. Is it an individual, a group or an organisation?

This is a key question because the degree to which responsibility for a decision is shared can greatly influence how much risk people are willing to take.

If the decision-making is for work, then it is helpful to consider the structure of the organisation.

·         Is the individual responsible for their decisions or does the organisation hold ultimate responsibility?

·         Who has to carry out the course of action decided?

·         Who will it affect if something goes wrong? 

·         Are you willing to take responsibility for a mistake?

Finally, you need to know who can actually make the decision. When helping a friend, colleague or client to reach a decision, in most circumstances the final decision and responsibility will be taken by them.

Whenever possible, and if it is not obvious, it is better to agree formally who is responsible for a decision.

This idea of responsibility also highlights the need to keep a record of how any decision was made, what information it was based on and who was involved.  Enough information needs to be kept to justify that decision in the future so that, if something does go wrong, it is possible to show that your decision was reasonable in the circumstance and given the knowledge you held at the time.

3. Information Gathering

Before making a decision, all relevant information needs to be gathered.

If there is inadequate or out-dated information then it is more likely that a wrong decision might be made. If there is a lot of irrelevant information, the decision will be difficult to make, and it will be easier to become distracted by unnecessary factors.

You therefore need up-to-date, accurate information on which to make decisions.

However, the amount of time spent on information-gathering has to be weighed against how much you are willing to risk making the wrong decision. In a group situation, such as at work, it may be appropriate for different people to research different aspects of the information required. For example, different people might be allocated to concentrate their research on costs, facilities, availability, and so on.

4. Weighing up the Risks Involved

One key question is how much risk should be taken in making the decision? Generally, the amount of risk an individual is willing to take depends on:

·         The seriousness of the consequences of taking the wrong decision.

·         The benefits of making the right decision.

·         Not only how bad the worst outcome might be, but also how likely that outcome is to happen.

It is also useful to consider what the risk of the worst possible outcome occurring might be, and to decide if the risk is acceptable.  The choice can be between going ‘all out for success’ or taking a safe decision.

5. Deciding on Values

Everybody has their own unique set of values: what they believe to be important. The decisions that you make will, ultimately, be based on your values. That means that the decision that is right for you may not be right for someone else.

If the responsibility for a decision is shared, it is therefore possible that one person might not have the same values as the others.

In such cases, it is important to obtain a consensus as to which values are to be given the most weight. It is important that the values on which a decision is made are understood because they will have a strong influence on the final choice.

6. Weighing up the Pros and Cons

It is possible to compare different solutions and options by considering the possible advantages and disadvantages of each.

One good way to do this is to use a 'balance sheet', weighing up the pros and cons (benefits and costs) associated with that solution. Try to consider each aspect of the situation in turn, and identify both good and bad.

For example, start with costs, then move onto staffing aspects, then perhaps presentational issues.

Having listed the pros and cons, it may be possible to immediately decide which option is best. However, it may also be useful to rate each of the pros and cons on a simple 1 to 10 scale (with 10 - most important to 1 - least important).

In scoring each of the pros and cons it helps to take into account how important each item on the list is in meeting the agreed values. This balance sheet approach allows this to be taken into account, and presents it in a clear and straightforward manner.

7. Making the Decision

Finally, it’s time to actually make the decision!

Your information-gathering should have provided sufficient data on which to base a decision, and you now know the advantages and disadvantages of each option. It is, as the television program Opportunity Knocks had it, ‘Make Your Mind Up Time’.

Warning!

You may get to this stage, and have a clear ‘winner’ but still feel uncomfortable. If that is the case, don’t be afraid to revisit the process. You may not have listed all the pros and cons, or you may have placed an unsuitable weighting on one factor.

Your intuition or ‘gut feeling’ is a strong indicator of whether the decision is right for you and fits with your values.

 

If possible, it is best to allow time to reflect on a decision once it has been reached.  It is preferable to sleep on it before announcing it to others. Once a decision is made public, it is very difficult to change.

For important decisions it is worth always keeping a record of the steps you followed in the decision-making process. That way, if you are ever criticised for making a bad decision you can justify your thoughts based on the information and processes you used at the time. Furthermore, by keeping a record and engaging with the decision-making process, you will be strengthening your understanding of how it works, which can make future decisions easier to manage.

Having Made the Decision...

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, once you have made a decision, don’t waste your time thinking about ‘what ifs’. If something does go wrong, and you need to revisit the decision, then do. But otherwise, accept the decision and move on.

Conclusion

This material has set out one decision-making technique that you may like to use. Remember, though, that no technique can substitute for good judgement and clear thinking. All decision-making involves individual judgement, and systematic techniques are merely there to assist those judgements.


(Source: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/decision-making2.html)
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