Monday, July 30, 2007

I vaguely remember reading a research article several years ago that postulated that with each additional member to a group, the decision-making within that group grows exponentially more complex. In other words, add one more member to a two-person group and the complexity of the group becomes six times greater; with four persons, the complexity becomes 24 times greater; and so on...

Within that context, take four young children in a family room (one is 9-years-old, three are 3.5-years-old; two are male, two are female) and try to have them agree on a common television show. And the difficulty is not even coming to a consensual choice [In our home, the cartoon Sponge Bob Square Pants seems to appease all]. The real difficulty comes in trying to view the television screen from where you are sitting.

In the Hoedl household, there rarely is a time when the phrase "I can't see! I can't see!" isn't uttered. 99% of the time it is because the television is at the eye-level of three-year-olds and one of our triplets is often times getting a close-up view of a particular television... and blocking the view of others.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times in a single day I have to say, "_______, please sit down so others can see." I have even caught myself saying, "Nicholas-Emily-Hannah, please sit down...", from the kitchen, when my son Leo (who only wanted my attention for a moment) called my name.

What creatures of habit we are...

We each, upon some personal introspection, will find that there is a core value/belief that motivates the majority of our actions. And for 99.9% of us, this core value/belief is just and noble. Life has a way, especially when you involve billions of humans with free will, of providing us with innumerable distractions, obstacles and challenges as we keep that value/belief in sight.

We leave our front doorstep with that value/belief well within our sight and yet, through a day of distractions, obstacles and challenges, we find ourselves at day's end yelling, "I can't see! I can't see!" If only the distractions, obstacles and challenges could just move out of the way, we would be able to keep our eye on the goal: that core value/belief. But, it's never that easy, my friend.

With so many lives intersecting on a daily basis, it's inevitable that someone or something (situation, obstacle, etc.) will enter into your line of view... and block your vision. And wouldn't it be so much easy if everyone and everything in the world would be so kind as to move over just a few steps?

But looking back over your life, you will most likely find that you not only have maintained your constant view of that core value/belief, but also that you had to do the majority of moving.

Perhaps that is the silver lining in the daily mishaps, mistakes, obstacles and distractions. We find that we can only yell "I can't see" for only so long, and then we have to move - our habits, our actions, our thinking - to get a better view on what is most important.

Perhaps the research still holds true on the complexity of group decision-making, but sometimes it may be just as simple as taking a few steps to either side. Ah, now we can see.


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