LeadU presents Choice and The Fish Bowl

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Choice and The Fish Bowl

“When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable.  As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive.  But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear.  As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded.  At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.  It might even be said to tyrannize.” 
— Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice

In general, I feel that choice is not what we think, or feel.

Choice happens.

It’s clear that we are choosing.  The question I raise, is how much is the choosing already chosen?  Like in the absence of free will, we see free will, we also see choice.

Yet, the ideas in The Feeling of What Happens, by Damasio, call us to the notion that our stimuli are already filtered before they get to our system of rational cognition, and Khaneman won a Nobel Prize for showing that most of our decision-making is irrational… so how much choice do we really think we have?

Or rather, how does choice manifest itself in our lives?

People in general, do not like to think or feel they are not in control.  For instance, to the extent that you feel in control, you feel ok, whatever being in control is for you.  (I suggest it’s different for most people.)

Schwartz says, "Choice is what enables us to tell the world who we are and what we care about."

And I agree with that.  But what BS tries to overtly influence us to understand, even though it is covert in its notions of influence, choosing in most cases to appeal to our unconscious motivators, rather than what reason we do have consciously, that we are in fact, the choice masters; that we are the ones making the choices, even though most likely we are merely participating, rather than rationally choosing.

I do believe this particular notion of choice is the most difficult, along with free will to swallow in FLOW…  Yet, until we get to this point, we won’t stop falling victim to those influences that actually benefit from our ignorance.

Things that will make you go "hmmmmmmmmmmm" for sure.

Choice & The Fish Bowl

Please feel free to watch this video from Barry Schwartz, as he discusses the Paradox of Choice:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO6XEQIsCoM

Pay particular attention to the Official Dogma of Western Society, per Barry, starting early around 40 seconds in…  and around 15:30 if you are pressed for time, don’t miss the fish bowl at 18:40.

The conclusion here is that
1), it is limited ANYWAY, and affluence makes BS more able to influence us because of our excess choice potential;
2) that while a fishbowl is limiting, it may be precisely this set of limitations, which produces serious gains in happiness, success, and EES.

Jaques, in an indirect way, says it’s a good idea to see the limits of your fishbowl, as much as BS has told us anything is possible, but knowing and enjoying the limits of Choice & The Fish Bowl may be our gift in waiting, and the key to success, happiness, and collaboration, which is most likely through reaching out to produce significantly higher levels of resilience.

Helpful Hint: I believe that once we get to the point that we realize that most of the time, choices are chosen for us, that we begin to be a bit more humble, which if only this is true, is good for us, as the ego position we take in humility is a lot different than the one emerging in arrogance.  The other super duper key here is this… IF we can realize that most of our choices are already being decided upstream, then we can begin to take a look at the process that chooses us –> our fish bowl, which can help us become more conscious that BS has us entrained into consumption because it does fit with liberation and freedom.  And yet as a result, the more we choose, the more we are chosen.  Having choices and choosing are two different things, in my view.

Action Step: It’s just going to take time to work this TPOV, because it flies in the face of everything we have been taught to value.  We like to think we are the choosers rather than the chosen — I suspect — and it’s just difficult to realize there is such great benefit in going upstream to look at the 5Ws in the process.  Noticing is big here.  The activity in choosing, especially for those of us who are active experimenters in the Kolb Learning Model, is actually improbable, if not impossible most times.  And this leaves us a victim of our upstream programming, as we are anyway, if you catch the meaning here.  However, if we can visit this process of choice-making and view it with some objectivity, we are more than likely going to be able, for a moment, if not a lifetime, step out of the rat race and fit comfortably in our fish bowl, as it grows, and expands over time.



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We hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas, and tools during this process, which you can use for your own development as well as your work and leadership with others.

You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

Mike R. Jay
Leadership University


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