I don’t dream (or, at least, I usually don’t remember my dreams), but this morning I woke with an odd dream fading from my memory, centered around the consequences of split-second decision-making. The circumstances of my dream have completely left me, but I did ponder about it as I went through my morning routine.
As if the universe is trying to tell me something, I saw this post in my Monday Morning blog reading: Marines Don’t Do That: Mastering the Split-Second Decision. The article by Professor Michael Wheeler from the Harvard Business School relays the (apparently true) story about a British Marine who made the wrong decision, and about the importance of being able to act (or react) appropriately without having the time to think.
Today’s world moves very quickly, and there is rarely time to thoroughly ponder the pros and cons of most decisions. How do you know if you make the right decision? How do keep from being frozen by indecision? The author states that a strong moral compass provides the backbone for making the right choice when there is not time for due consideration.
Acting quickly and decisively is only half the battle, however. Living with the consequences of those actions is the other half. While acting within a strong moral compass should result in the correct result, there is always the chance that even a good-hearted decision will be the wrong decision. We’ve all made mistakes – some with serious consequences. Not only do we have to live with those consequences, we must not become so fearful of making mistakes that we lose the ability to act at all.
The author goes beyond the discussion of relying upon your moral compass as a guide for your own decision-making – he further states that this principle applies to interactions with others – we should use our moral principles to encourage others to do the right thing (or discourage them from the wrong choice). The author tells us that US Marines are taught poise, presence and moral courage, including the courage to not stand idly by while another person acts improperly. As moral people, we are also responsible for those we touch. I think that society discourages us from sharing our beliefs with others; and certainly discourages us from trying to influence others if we disagree with the current mob mentality.
My prayer for today is that we have the courage of our convictions and the courage to act within those convictions for others as well as for ourselves – and especially when the decision is made in the split-second.