Years ago I attended a business meeting where I heard a gentleman say something that really stuck in my head, “It is impossible to make a good business decision unless you are willing to walk away from the deal.” He went on to explain that it is difficult to make wise business decisions when you are heavily invested in a deal emotionally. In fact, he said that the more emotion that is involved, the less rational a person will be in their thinking process. Therefore, if you want to be a good decision-maker, you must ask yourself to what extent you are emotionally involved in your current set of circumstances. Maybe a couple of examples will help.
I once read a book called, Boundaries, in which the authors talk about how important healthy boundaries are to every relationship. They also discuss the fact that proper boundaries are especially difficult in marriage and in raising children because so much emotion is involved in those relationships. In one particular story the author explained that if a wife wanted her husband to do something on Saturday morning and he had already made other plans, he should be able to say to her, “I am sorry that I will not be able to do that because I have already made other plans. However, if you would like to hire someone to help you do that project, it will be fine with me.” I almost dropped the book – not because I disagreed so much with the author – but, because I could hardly imagine a husband saying that to his wife without there being a lot of emotion involved! A lot! If I had been writing that chapter I would have suggested that it would be far better to make plans earlier in the week regarding what is going to happen on Saturday. Waiting to make a decision until the last minute or in the “heat of the moment” is not wise and will almost always involve a good bit of emotion. I realize the purpose of boundaries is to help us make good, strong, rational decisions rather than emotional ones, but when a family member is involved, it is usually going to be extremely difficult.
The medical community knows this well and does not allow surgeons to operate on someone in their own family because their judgment will be clouded by their emotional attachment. They know that surgeons’ objectivity in the decision-making process will be affected and that they may not be able to think clearly if they operate on someone with whom they have a close relationship.
Years ago when I was a school principal, my daughter Rachael and I arrived at school very early one morning. I instructed her to stay in the cafeteria where I knew she would be safe while I took care of a couple of items. Several minutes later the vice principal (who also just happened to be her godparent) saw her in the cafeteria and asked her to go play outside on the playground. Rachael, six years old at the time, was confused because she had just been given two different sets of instruction, but she obeyed the vice principal since he was the last to tell her what to do.
When I came back to the cafeteria, she was gone! I looked for her and found her on the playground. I asked why she disobeyed me and she would not give me an answer. Then we had a whole new problem. I couldn’t understand why she would not answer my simple question, but I could tell she was troubled about something. Finally she said, “You told me that I could never say anything against someone else, so I can’t tell you!” That really confused me because in my mind I was not asking her to speak against someone else; I was simply asking her why she didn’t stay in the cafeteria like I had instructed her to do. After some confusion and tears, I was finally able to pry out of her that the vice principal had told her to go outside. Now I understood.
My point is that all of this came about because emotion was involved. I had told Rachael one thing as her father and as the principal of the school, and the vice principal, whom she loved and respected, had told her something else. She was confused because she did not want to disobey either of us. Her emotions got the better of her, which led to hurt feelings and tears. It became a great teaching moment for us as I was able to help her understand that it is okay to explain a situation to people in authority who have given you two different sets of instruction. And, I am convinced that if it had not been for the fact that she was so emotionally close to the vice principal, she would have just said, “My father told me to stay inside.” But, because emotion was involved, she was confused.
This is a situation that all of us must deal with every day. When it comes to marriage, raising children, and dealing with family members, emotion will always be involved. The same is true in a business deal that we believe is going to be our “ticket to freedom.” We must remember to keep emotion separate from intellect in order to stay healthy and be wise. I once saw a sign that said, “E over I will make you lie, but I over E will set you free!” Of course, E stands for emotion and I stands for intellect. That is the point I am trying to make. Intellect over emotion will set you free!
What decisions do you need to make this week? If it is possible for you to separate your emotion from the intellect regarding the decision, you will be in a much better position to make a wise choice regarding whatever situation you are facing. It is working for me and I trust the same will be true of you!
Tip: You make better decisions when you are not emotionally attached!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm