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How independent minded are you ?

We have seen the folly of our ways exposed in the most dramatic fashion during the recession  as the economic recession developed and deepened. In a fit of collective insanity many of us became over exposed to the property market. We ignored or rationalized away the evidence that there was trouble ahead.Why did we ‘need ‘ to buy that holiday home or expensive car ? Why did we spend like there was no tomorrow? It all poses questions about the drivers behind our decision making.

It has been said that we should not  ‘waste a good crisis’, but take a hard look at the lessons we need to learn to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. We would probably like to see ourselves as grown ups capable of thinking for ourselves, but how true is this in reality? It might profit us to reflect on what informs our decision making and how good we are at avoiding the herd mentality, so evident in recent years.

If we don’t behave in accordance with highest values ( which implies knowing them in the first place) we can so easily go astray and take decisions that we will live to regret. For example, if we are motivated by greed and ‘keeping up with the Jones’s ‘ it is unlikely to bring us long term happiness and we are more likely to be reckless in our decision making. We should also remember that we humans have shown that are capable of rationalising almost anything – all the more reason to be aware of our drivers !

Being independent minded is not necessarily easy. It can require a lot of resolve and maturity to act differently from our peer group. For example, you may attract a lot of criticism and suffer social and career consequences if you take a contrary view – ask any corporate whistle blower ! However, the line of least resistance is not necessarily the best in the long term.

So why not do some soul searching by considering the following :

– Are you happy with your values and do you live by them?
– Do you act too much out of self interest and materialistic considerations?
– Do you take the time to investigate a range of different perspectives/options before making a decision?
– Do you make your own decisions or rely on the recommendations of others?
– Do you remain open to change your mind as circumstances change?
– Are you prepared to take an unpopular stance, if you believe that something is wrong?
– Can you be persuaded to do something against your better judgement ?
– How good are you at arguing and presenting your point of view ?

The answers to the above might prove useful food for thought. Remember if you don’t reflect on the errors of your ways you are destined to repeat the same old mistakes.

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