The Donkey Died Because ...


Some time ago, I remember reading about “Buridan's Ass”. It is a dilemma, according to medieval logic, that occurs when a donkey is placed exactly between two piles of food of equal size and quality. If the donkey behaves naturally, it will have no reason to prefer one pile to the other and therefore cannot reach a decision as to which to eat first. Hence, it remains frozen in its original position and eventually starves to death.

Over the years I have witnessed many people immobilized by their need to choose, coupled with the inability to do so. In many instances objective viewers would wonder why, since the choice seemed so obvious. But the subject's perception was more often than not tainted by the necessity for change, of letting go of the familiar, the status quo. Two great schools, two wonderful jobs, two great business ideas - and yet, time passes, chances fade, with no decision being made.

In a brainstorming session, someone would be bound to come up with the idea of flipping a coin. But then a need for a decision arises; which would be heads and which one would be tails. A fear of assigning that much authority to a coin emerges.

If we are looking at two possible, even probable, chances for success and independence, how do we make the ultimate choice?

The truth is, there are more than two possibilities here… There are three. We may choose not to decide, which means we have made a decision we're going to have to live with forever, while wondering what might have happened otherwise. Not a good plan.

Here are a couple of suggestions; techniques that I have used in the past that led me unerringly in directions that have been joyful and fulfilling. And, more importantly, there have never been those painful moments that accompany second thoughts.

The first process: 1. Clearly view the issue 2. Get the advice and counsel of positive thinking others 3. List all options and alternatives 4. Determine which way you can go and wonder the fewest number of times what would have happened if you'd gone the other way. 5. Choose the most apparent course 5. ACT! MOVE! And, it's a good idea to put blinders on, thereby reducing distractions and those second thoughts. It's called commitment.

A second way: Flip a coin. Assign heads to Choice A and tails to Choice B and then flip. If it comes up heads and you wish it had been tails… If you decide to do “two out of three” and heads win again, causing you to opt for three out of five… You'd better go with B. Oh! Don't forget the commitment.

The main thing is, don't be like the indecisive donkey - you might just shut down, stagnate and die in place. Any indecision in one area of your life will cripple your effectiveness in all the others.

“Double-minded people are unstable in all their ways.”
James 1:8

'There is no more miserable human being
than the one in whom nothing
is habitual but indecision.'
-William James

"We all have a choice:
We can live and make a living or
we can design a life and make a difference"
-Bern Moses

Tom Myers Copyright © 2010