Thursday, April 29, 2010


When dealing with any sort of challenge, a good strategic mind looks at the various options before deciding on the course of action. One has to weight the costs, in money and effort, versus the gains or losses, whether this path leads to better results than those, and so on.

Most of the time, the biggest impediment to strategic thinking involves emotional speculation. We tend to use our imagination mostly to do shoddy guess work of other people's reactions to a situation, mostly due to fear and social anxiety. As an example, how many people declare themselves of a particular religion or denomination, simply because that's "hows its done and that's how it goes", because being Irish means being Catholic, or being Arab means being Muslim, or being an inner city black means being something of a gangster and ghetto, and so forth.

How many people imagine what life is and how life works, entirely based on what goes on within the confines of their little neighborhood? A fish in a tank cannot imagine what life is like, or even conceive of such a thing as the sea. If you keep your vision short and narrow, then strategic thinking cannot take place; at best, you can do very well tactically, which is short and narrow indeed, envisioning only a limited array of possibility of outcomes and consequences. That is how most mistakes are made, and how people get stuck in a rut.

By thinking strategically, it is necessary to look beyond the next work day, the next week, the next corner. You have to start thinking beyond what your family would think, and start seriously thinking about longer term effects. How likely are those inconveniences to remain, versus the effects of the benefits? Is not attending a family dinner worth your mother being pissed off a few months versus attending a workshop that will benefit you for months, or years to come? Whose opinion matters the most, the career counsellor's, or your dad's? Does the family tradition of being in this one area, and working in this field, for generations on end the best plan? r should you start looking outside the home range for a range of possibilities?

Often, strategic thinking involves looking at a challenge from multiple angles, which bears different viewpoints that allow for more complex geometric thinking. It does require some more work in preparation, and a different challenge unto its own, as this way of thinking requires to ask questions, and get answers, to work at its most effective. Strategic thinking needs masses of information, and a certain degree of mental discipline, to allow for the proper management of that accumulated data, for organization and analysis. If that skill is lacking, then you will end up with a gap, which will lead to false leads and inappropriate goals, which will certainly impede your success.

If the strategic analysis is done sufficiently, then the planning stage will be far more accurate, leading to less tactical work, given that false leads have been culled, and emotive blocks conquered with rational discipline. With improved planning, less work has to actually take place afterward, as your intelligence gathering and analysis already took place, and allowed you to determined the incremental goals that needed to be achieved for attaining your ultimate goal. This data gathering and analysis will allow you to correctly identify your obstacles, and often, the proper target for action. Sometimes, the best way to convince dad to let you go to college, instead of continuing the family's tradition of coal mining, is to convince grandpa that its a good idea. Just as you are impeded in your thinking by his possible reaction to your decision, he is also impeded in his by his bondage to the perceived importance of family tradition. Single industry towns are pits of despair, as they are unable to conceive of life without that industry, or life outside their county for that matter.

By analyzing the data, and filtering your tactical mind through the filter of your objectives, you can decypher the correct course of action for success. Do you go by the book and follow all the steps, just to make sure you win as much as possible, even if you'll endure endless haggling and anxiety because of too many actors getting involved, with far too many decision power and possibly fickle rationale? Or do you condense your tactics, target the most direct decision maker and deal with a minimum of actors in a minimum amount of time?

Sometimes, the hardest part of the decision making process is the first active step. Making plans is not hard; its acting upon them that is. But if your endgame is to improve your living arrangements, then plan and act accordingly.

And treat your companions, animal and human, to a damn good meal in the bargain.

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