Relationships & Reality Matter (What is Right, Part 4)

Writing has long been a mechanism for me to mentally, emotionally and spiritually process issues, which is one of the reasons I initially began blogging. However, one of the challenges about blogging a multi-part series is that my mind continues to learn from new perspectives that change previous posts. This post is a direct consequence of that process.

During the past few weeks I had the privilege of a conversation with Gary Smith, a friend and fellow member of a CEO peer advisory group in which I formerly participated. Smith shared some powerful insights that expanded and enriched the step-by-step decision process I originally articulated in part two of this What is Right? series (here).

As a quick recap of that earlier post, when faced with a decision for which the best course of action is initially uncertain or ambiguous step through the following questions in order:

1. Is there a reigning principle of natural law in play? These are decisions where there is a universally applicable (although often not universally accepted) right versus wrong.

2. What prior commitment(s), if any, effect(s) my choice? These might be commitments of belonging (i.e. open-ended commitments we have made to others) or commitments of action (i.e. commitments to specific behaviors and/or deliverables).

3. What choice most aligns with my life purpose and goals (for this season of life)? In a secular environment we might call this a mission statement. In a spiritual context this is often termed a calling.

After my conversation with Gary Smith, I’m inclined to add two steps:

4. What Relationships could impact or be impacted by my choice? As an engineer, great ideas grab my attention. However, life experience has taught me that absent relationships even the best ideas die quickly or go nowhere. Why? Great ideas involve a diversity of skills and a depth of complexity over which no single individual can hope to have mastery. Relationships help us foresee issues that would otherwise trip us up. Relationships expand our minds and hearts to possibilities we would otherwise ignore. Relationships solve problems that would otherwise stymie progress. Relationships tap into resources without which a great idea would otherwise starve. Relationships lend us courage without which we might otherwise succumb to fear and doubt. Relationships leverage the power of shared passion without which we would otherwise give up.

5. What is Reality? Before we forge ahead into any new endeavor we must frankly confront reality. Do the numbers and other assumptions make sense? Test the math. Does the desired objective rely upon outcomes aligned (or wholly at odds) with historical norms? Bottom line…We must count the cost.

In part five of this series, we will take this What is Right? process and apply it to a practical situation that is confronting or will eventually confront readers of this blog.