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Friday, April 23, 2010


Here is my newest strategy for making the world a better place.  My one and only job will be to encourage people to stop before agreeing to do anything.   I’ll set up a phone in my office, a kind of discernment hotline.  When it rings (it will probably be red and flash like in the old Batman show), I’ll pick it up and shout, “STOP!!! Don’t say yes.  Don’t say no either.  Give it some time.  Pause and ponder."   I haven’t figured out how much I am going to charge for this service, but I think it is worth a lot.

I know there is a need. In the past 24 hours, four different people have said to me some version of “Why did I agree so quickly to do this project/task/committee/commitment?  At the time I was asked, it seemed like such a good idea.”

“Yes” may or may not ultimately be the right response to any of these commitments. Many things worth doing are challenging.  I don’t pretend to know. (Though I do have at least 10 Ideas for what to do while seeking clarity.) I do know the value of stopping, pausing, reflecting before agreeing to take something new on.  Our world moves at such a rapid pace.  Bringing that pace into our inner life, where good decisions are born, creates a kind of east-meets-west, oil and vinegar experience.

Sure it is possible to over think a decision.  I even believe it is possible to over pray a decision.  There are times when it is right to act, even though the path ahead is still very foggy.  But in today’s world, where busyness is an epidemic, it is worth giving any decision some time. The right "yes" is usually the result of a few "no's".

Doug Wysockey-Johnson
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  1. This is so appropriate for me to get. I read the 10 Things to do when you are at a Crossroad. I did them. It helped me to discern what one of the 4 decisions at hand should be. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the comment Sandy. Can you say which of the 10 was most helpful?

  3. I have learned to "listen" to my body. When my gut feels queasy the answer is "no." I also listen to my intuition and dreams to guide me. In earlier years I made many choices that were not the wisest because I did not listen. After a divorce I vowed to spend early a.m. in meditation. The result has been a much clearer direction for my life.

  4. Thanks Pat. I think disciplines like meditation make a huge difference for discernment. Things like "listening to my body" can sound very esoteric, but in fact we can get better at them. Sounds like you have.

  5. After a particularly long time in a leadership position in my church, I decided to simply be a congregant. It feels good. I listened to me, and perhaps more importantly I listened to my family. You know what? The church is doing just fine without my leadership. Imagine that!