Sunday, July 5, 2009

Processing Decisions

Jen and I have often discussed how we each make decisions. That topic has come up regularly during the past 6 months as we have engaged in conversations with others about our decision to participate in an MCC term of service. Currently we are beginning our two weeks of MCC orientation and it seems this topic may surface yet again. Jen is busy completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator survey, which we will all review during our orientation at some point.

Much of our processing this decision has been about exactly that, how we process decisions. Typically, I am fairly reactionary and have a tendency to do what feels good. I am inclined to process decisions internally and engage in the process of deciding actively. By that I mean, I often go with my gut and prefer to figure things out as I go.

Jen's style, however, is quite different. She much prefers to gather information, discuss a variety of options with a variety of different sources and be sure she is doing the "right" thing. Consequently, her decisions are often well informed and thought through and it can take her long to arrive at a conclusion. In fact, after the decision is reached there is usually more for her to consider.

Obviously, both styles have their benefits and drawbacks. The trick is how to make them work together. That has certainly been an interesting experience for us.

I would have set off on an MCC term many years ago by now. However, I really wasn't interested in going without my family. So, it became important for me to take some very big steps back and approach the idea from Jen's point of view. This was necessary for Jen and a great experience for me as well. We participated in a Quaker model of discernment called a Clearness Committee, which allowed many of our well respected friends and acquaintances the opportunity of asking us challenging and important questions to help us reflect on the MCC opportunity. The committee also set up an environment that provided great opportunity for us to really hear each other.

Interestingly, I discovered through this process a couple of new things about Jen and myself. I have come to appreciate the ability Jen has to articulate her thought process as it occurs (something which is difficult for me to do personally). In addition, I see tremendous value in her approach to family and how that informs her decision making process...I have personally received great benefit from that over the years. I have also come to understand that I don't necessarily fly by the seat of my pants. It may appear that way at times, especially when I don't take the time to let people in on what I am thinking. I process thoughts and ideas much more internally than I realized before Jen and I began this process. So, when I first verbalize a significant idea or thought, it has usually surfaced from much internal processing and has been informed by a variety of areas of input.

These dynamics will continue to be interesting to me as we begin to navigate our way in a different culture, while sharing a position.

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