Monday, April 16, 2007

Opinions . . . Attitudes . . . Values

A question has reached me today that made me think deeply about how I make choices: What criteria do I use?

I am happy to talk about my own process with the caveat that everyone has their own process, and that it would surprise me greatly if someone else had my process.

Let me take a situation that was operating just this morning.

My sweetheart has an acting gig for an Equity theatre in Maine. Rehearsal starts tomorrow. Our plan was to drive together to Maine today, get things settled in, and then I would drive back to Boston on my own.

The Weather (in this case, with a capital W) had other plans this morning.

Conversation over breakfast went through the three-tiered process laid out below by British founder of Market and Opinion Research International, Sir Robert Worcester. He says of the general public:

“Opinions are the ripples on the surface of the public’s consciousness, shallow and easily changed.
Attitudes are the currents below the surface, deeper and stronger.
Values are the deep tides of the public mood, slow to change, but powerful.”

Well, no surprise here. I am a part of the general public. Aren’t we all?

My Earl Grey tea was sending its steamy plume toward the cold kitchen windows. We started with our Opinions (metaphysically, Thoughts). “I really should be able to drive back no matter the weather.”

We graduated to Attitudes (metaphysically, Feelings). “I don’t want you to go.”

Then, all at once, we both let go and opened ourselves to the Best Choice, namely Values (metaphysically, Knowings). “I don’t really need the car till Tuesday morning.” She has to come back on Monday evening to teach Tuesday morning. “It’ll be less stressful on me if I drive up with you Tuesday after class and come back to Boston Wednesday morning on my own after the weather has cleared up.”

I want you to know that we didn’t realize we were following Sir Robert’s steps. What we were really doing was asking my two standard Values questions.

Is it simple?
Is it elegant?

These are the two questions that I have learned to ask about ANY and EVERY choice I make. These are two of my important Values.

Often, we have to go through the Thoughts (Opinions) and Feelings (Attitudes) before we get to Knowings (Values). Better, we have to strip away and let go of our thoughts and feelings to get to what we know.

What we both knew this morning was that I tend to stress out going 65 miles per hour even when the day is fine. Did I have to go to Maine today? No. Could I manage without the car for a couple of days? Sure. Would I be better off later in the week when the weather has eased up a bit? Absolutely.

Is it simple? Is it elegant?

Unless I get an affirmative to both questions, I know that I haven't yet found the Best Choice.

This is my process for making choices. What’s yours?

No comments: