When it is Best to “Choose Nothing”

Focus Mindfulness

When it is Best to “Choose Nothing”

It is human nature. Many executive leaders or entrepreneurs go into a meeting with a series of choices in front of them.Some managers hate the thought of being indecisive, so they leap in and they decisively, forcefully, reactively decide. In fact, we at VIM Executive Coaching have known of several “hard-chargers” who value the virtue of making in the moment, laser focused decisions. What is often worse, is that their organizations all too often value the virtue of rapid fire decisions that they make as well. The results of such reactions are all over the board, but generally speaking they can be and usually are catastrophic.

Executive leadership should value sound decision making, and the entire process of meeting and gathering information should be based on research and/or consensus not on whim or fancy. It often is not. We love the hard-charger who makes decisions by the “seat of their pants,” or who solve complex personnel problems through on the spot intuition.

The Choiceless Way

The virtue of Choicelessness is hardly a new concept, but goes back to antiquity. Yet in most ways, this ancient concept is as relevant now as was when it was first put forth. It essentially says that life is not a choice of “A” or “B” but of numerous choices – an entire alphabet of choices. Furthermore, there is no magic intuitive process or in the moment gift any of us have to charge into a situation and immediately know the correct answer. Obviously, I am not referring to a first responder situation or the decision a pilot must make when encountering turbulence (in both cases, there is extensive training behind those types of decisions).

In a corporate or entrepreneurial setting, valuing and embracing Choicelessness should be viewed as something positive and not negative. It is putting forth the concept that we should not base executive leadership decisions on a pre-determined set of biases, but on having the openness of mind and heart to view all of the possibilities.

The question that often arises and indeed, one we hear often at VIM Executive Coaching, is when people ask us how they can make the best decisions. Going into a decision-making situation for example, how they can be assured they always arrive at the best solution?

No Guarantees

There are, of course, no guarantees. An executive leader might be armed with every conceivable study and piece of research and still make the wrong choice because he or she has reacted to the data (whatever that may be) rather than responding to it. Again, it is the pressure to react in the moment that has been valued, rather than to respond to what has been presented.

The concept of Choicelessness tells us to not immediately jump upon every instinct or inclination but to carefully balance all of the possibilities. To consider that there may be many likely outcomes to be weighed. How is this best accomplished? By being mindful, by practicing techniques such as mindfulness meditation where we open ourselves to every option and to respond, not react in the moment.

Contrary to popular belief, this “mindfulness stuff,” does not require us to spend hours and hours on every decision we make in our respective organizations. It is a tool that helps us to develop and to be aware of our abilities to respond, in the moment, rather than to blindly react.

Choicelessness is saying that we are open to many opportunities and that we are willing to listen not only to all sides, but to realize that we should encourage opinion, expression and input. Response in this manner, may reveal many possible solutions or new ideas we may not have thought of, or decisions that may even have been obscured by our own sense of personal bias.

Mindfulness meditation, being in the moment, being present is a valuable asset for any leader. The concept of Choicelessness tells us that it is not only desirable, but essential to be open. Whether we are trying to solve a personnel issue in our departments or to arrive at the best solution to a complex planning situation, realizing we need to be exposed to all possibilities is a very empowering tool.


VIM: - noun: lively or energetic spirit; enthusiasm; vitality