A young man contemplates one weekly decision—the subject of this email
November 28, 2022

What Drives Your Choice?

Read time —
3 Minutes

It is a curious question, what drives your choice?

We often decide too quickly to even think about what is driving our choice. When this happens, we forget about the motivations that define our decisions. Yet, behind every decision we make, there is a force which guides our reasoning.

The way we reason can be summarised into one of three categories:

  • Tribal reasoning
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Conceptual reasoning

Tribal reasoners ensure their choices align with the tribe. Alignment and acceptance with a collective group are the measures of success.

Ethical reasoners fashion their choices from principles of good and evil. Values matter more than outcomes, as the decision-maker focuses on alignment to a moral standpoint.

A conceptual reasoner is rational. Outcomes are often planned for and thought through. Decisions follow a process of questioning and validating information. Of modelling concepts, and calculating likely outcomes to choose the best way forward.

Examples appear everywhere. In politics, tribal reasoning is the force that holds people together. Step back in time, and you can see how tribal reasoning led to collaboration and progress.

Ethical reasoning sits at the heart of one of the most significant decisions made in the last twenty-five years. Michael J. Mazarr explains in his book, Leap of Faith, that George W Bush's desire for regime change in Iraq came from a belief Saddam was evil. The morally right thing to do, as far as the US president was concerned, was to remove him.

As Michael reveals in the book, conceptual thinkers were asking questions that could have foreseen the trouble ahead. The authority of the president was such that those questions went unanswered.

The point here isn't to pour scorn on ethical or tribal reasoners. Decisions are much easier to make when the method of reasoning aligns with points of principle or collective acceptance. Deciding this way allows us to accept the reasoning of others without question.

But, our ideals are changing and this has brought doubt to this way of deciding.

Our conceptual reasoning wants to ask questions. We seek information from the source—and challenge our assumptions. Alternative outcomes come to the fore. The consequences of each decision draw further thought before we decide.

Yes, it is a slower way to decide, but it is one which calms our inquisitiveness to understand.

This week’s One Weekly Decision is a question. It is a check digit to ask what’s driving this choice.

  • Is it an ethically driven choice?
  • Is it an alignment with tribal values?
  • Or is there some conceptual reasoning that covers the bases?

Armed with an answer, you can provide support or compensation.

Furthermore, ask this of your decisions. Consider the outcome; think beyond the simplicity an ethical or tribal-driven choice gives. Actions have outcomes. Considering those outcomes can help avoid the mousetrap of entropy.

So, before you decide, ask; what is driving this choice.

Thanks for reading.

The biggest compliment you can give me is replying to share your thoughts.


Founder, The Resolve Blog

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