How to Make Decisions?

November 13, 2023

We often hear the Chinese proverb that a long journey begins with a single step. However, the most arduous and much longer journeys start with a single misstep, leading us in the wrong direction. Consequently, that initial decision is of utmost importance.

So, where should we begin when making decisions?

Our perception of the world can be categorized into three distinct perspectives: what we desire it to be (our wants), what we believe it should be (our "should’s"), and what it actually is (reality).

Decisions with single focus:

1. Desire: Children, or those who have not fully matured, often view the world solely through the lens of their desires. They tend to disregard what should be done or what is currently happening. Their focus is exclusively on what they want, and they become upset when their desires are not fulfilled.

2. Should: Other individuals set aside their desires and concentrate solely on what they believe they should do. This category often includes highly orthodox religious individuals who strictly adhere to the doctrines of their faith, whether it's the Quran, the Torah, or the New Testament. They might become hostile when the should they believe in, is not adhered to.

3. Reality: These people are driven exclusively by what is, by the demands of the current situation. Since the situation dictates it, they do it, although it might have extreme long-term repercussions; it should not have been done.

When considering all three, one might be frustrated. For instance, right now, while you are reading this blog (reality), you may feel that you should finish cleaning your room instead, but what you truly want to do is go play golf.

How should one sequence the three variables? The sequence of decision-making: desire >> should >> reality, is the preferred one among startup entrepreneurs. They want to change the current reality and act according to what they believe they should do to turn their desires into reality.

This approach is suitable for startups where the worst-case scenario might be bankruptcy. It can, however, lead to catastrophic outcomes when applied in politics, potentially resulting in the loss of thousands or even millions of lives; these people are the fanatics. They push a program they want and insist vehemently that it should be done, disregarding the reality in the field.

What should be the right sequence for solving complications like the Middle East problem? The proper sequence for managing change should be: reality >> desire >> should. Start FIRST by focusing on reality.

The reality is that around 6 million Palestinians have no place to go, and no one wants them. This situation is unsustainable, and no one can be a refugee indefinitely. Any promise of a better future, regardless of its realism, enables fanatic demagogues to get elected. The Jewish people, after thousands of years of persecution, are not going anywhere else either; they are here to stay.

This IS the reality.

The argument against Arabs calling themselves Palestinians or claiming ownership of the land because Palestine never existed focuses on the "should" perspective, not on what is. The Palestinians have lived and worked on this land for generations and have an attachment to it. This is another reality.

Taking reality into account, what are their desires? The extreme Jewish settlers want a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. The extreme Palestinian fanatics want a Palestinian state with no Jews.

Taking into account this reality, those desires cannot be fulfilled. A new want needs to be developed: how to live together or the reality will be a continued war.

Considering the reality that both Jews and Palestinians have nowhere else to go, although their wants differ, what both parties should do is to have separate states.

Israel, in deciding what it should do, must adapt what it wants to the current reality: It cannot have the West Bank free of Palestinians. The Palestinians, on the other hand, must adapt their desires of returning to their old homes to the reality that the world has changed, and they should build a new life in new homes.

Israel is concerned that a separate Palestinian state might become a threat, as happened with Gaza. Therefore, there should be external guarantees to prevent the use of strategic aggressive weapons in Palestine. The Palestinians, on the other hand, fearing Israeli expansion intentions, should be assured that Israel will respect its borders and not expand anymore.

There is also the challenge of territorial continuity between Gaza and the West Bank. Creating two separate Palestinian states, one in Gaza and one in the West Bank, could be a practical solution.

There will be implementation challenges, such as ensuring no hostile weapons in Palestinian states and overseeing the use of foreign aid. These are details to be worked out. What should be done becomes easier to decide once both sides agree on the reality and recognize and acknowledge each other's desires.

What to do with those who refuse to change the sequence by how they make decisions? They are fanatical and stick to what they want and claim should be, ignoring the reality we live in. They must be marginalized. They are the source of the disaster, the cause of the tragedy we are facing.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes