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In this episode, coach, speaker and decision analyst, Michelle Florendo, unfolds the science and emotions that we as humans typically encounter when making decisions. Michelle takes us through an empowering wisdom-filled episode on how to use tough decisions as opportunities to better our lives while avoiding the often anxiety-inducing habits of decision making. You can be certain that this and many more truly profound lessons can be learned from what Michelle has to share today.
Michelle Florendo is a coach specializing in helping people unlock the power of good decision making to craft fulfilling careers and happier lives. Learn more about her work at MichelleFlorendo.
One of the things that I realized would be a good practice for myself is really leaning into dealing with uncertainty and viewing uncertainty for what it is and not like always thinking that it’s about the risk of bad things happening. And what really solidified that for me was plane travel. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this before. Travel roulette is basically when you pack a bag. You go to the airport without a destination in mind. And upon arrival at the airport you book a ticket for under 500 bucks and you go and I remember having a lot of anxiety but I figured you know this this would be a good thing even if things turn out bad it be good for developing resilience and doing this like being in the moment and roll with things thing that my husband does.
And that trip turned out way better than anything I could have ever planned and that’s when I realized you know we we get into this habit of you know this like reaction of fear whenever uncertainty comes up because we’re so conditioned to fear the bad things that may happen that we forget that uncertainty is also the possibility of wonderful things happening.
I’m Srini out and this is the unmistakable creative podcast where you get a window into the stories and insights of the most innovative and creative minds who started movements built thriving businesses written best selling books and created insanely interesting. For more check out our 500 episode archive unmistakable creative doc
Mashup what can be supportive thanks for taking the time to join us. Thanks for having me. Super excited to be
Here is likely to have heard were one of a long line of amazing people who has been referred by our friend and former domestic creative guests are back.
So I really thrilled to have you here. I want to start by asking you where in the world did you grow up. What impact did you grow up interested.
Yeah so I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area in a suburb largely populated by immigrant families. And so my parents are both immigrants. They immigrated from the Philippines though interestingly enough not at the same time. So they met here in the states and I’d say that had a huge influence on just my entire arc. So my dad I feel like a very typical immigrant story. She grew up in a farming community in the Philippines and his education and his his grit and his willingness to work hard was his ticket out of that type of life. And then my mom said I should say my dad immigrated here as an adult. And then my mom actually immigrated to the U.S. when she was 12. So she spent a number of her formative years here and as a result my parents have very different parenting philosophies.
So my mom had a tiger mom who basically told her everything she could and could not do. To this day my mom doesn’t know how to ride a bike because my grandmother said it was not ladylike for her to do.
And so as a result my mom decided to parent the way that she was not parenting. She wanted to do all of the things that her mom did not do. So she’s very encouraging really wanted to help me and my sister find our passions and be able to follow that.
Whereas my dad on the other hand was more like a typical immigrant like you know the path to success is is my impression of my dad. The path to success is to study hard go to college graduate and then get that good job. I have air quotes around the job and I think as a result of growing up in a largely immigrant community that that common narrative that my dad had won out. I think it also doesn’t help that I’m a first born so I felt that responsibility to do the right thing. And a little bit of the risk averse audience that comes with that. Like oh I need to be the one who does all the right things who does all the things that I’m supposed to do. And it also probably didn’t help that I was I was good at as good at that plan. Like go to school study hard. I still remember when I was in the first grade I came home with my first report card and had good grades. And I remember my dad kneeling in front of me in our family kitchen saying wow wow this is such good grades.
You’re so smart you should go to Stanford which is like the closest college.
So not only was it you know really great school but also immigrant parents dreams that keep my kids close to home.
And as a first grader is like Ok dad that sounds like a great idea and and did all that.
So I worked hard in school I did all the things I was supposed to do. I got into Stanford. I. Ok this was the one departure from the plan I was not a doctor or a lawyer. Did not haha. I went a little risky route.
I’d studied engineering decision engineering to be precise and then went out and got that you know quote unquote good job in management consulting. And I thought I had made it right. Those are all the things we’re supposed to do. And I quickly realized that that was not it does not all I had to do was not even the you know having made it because I was miserable and so I feel like in the 15 years since then it’s been a lot of just reconciling that I think a very common narrative that many people grew up with like to study hard go to school get a good job and this other piece that my mom tried to instill in me that didn’t start kind of winning out or having that voice in my head until I was in that job.
I was miserable. Wait a minute. What now.
Wow that raises numerous questions. One is when you have one current who are actually grew up here particularly in formative years. Another
Who immigrated Bauers preservation inherited the culture of work in that sense because I’m the opposite of that in the sense that both my parents were immigrants both of them were raised in India.
So there is some sense of preservation of their culture.
I wonder how that happens in this situation and what part of the loss because of the. Well I think one thing I’ll say I lost the language actually I didn’t lose it because I never had it.
My parents made an intentional decision not to teach my sister and I. Any of them native Philippine languages they knew. I think from my dad him immigrating as an adult. I think he caught a lot of flak for his accent and so he wanted us to have perfect native English growing up.
But as far as the cultural heritage I think I had the great fortune again living in an immigrant Kimmey with also a quite large especially at our church Filipino population.
And so I felt like I learned I learned a lot of those folk songs folk dances cultural things that were layered into our religion actually outside of the home which is kind of interesting for me to realize now that you ask that question because now as a mother and my husband and I come from two different cultural heritages were also actively thinking about this right now to what are the things we want to pass on and what are the things that we don’t like I know my mom did not want to pass on the Tiger Mom mission.
I think that was great for her but I think I lost them thanks to this.
It’s interesting because I think I can relate to this narrative particularly when you get that because it’s pretty much the one that I was given but on the self I saw that it was so bad that I was like OK there’s no way that this is like. But I wonder you said are you going to have a sister.
I feel like with my parents I was the experiment with everything off it and basically fix it with my sister. So yeah I remember my dad didn’t understand that. When you’re in seventh grade kids are popular for wearing clothes until we were in San Antonio Texas and some kids that I didn’t know in a town 200 miles away from where we were started making fun of my crappy shoes from Payless my dad said you know it. I said I don’t know that at all 200 miles from home and he finally got a sense for it but with my sister it was like oh yeah whatever we’ve dealt with this before because I think that it was such an anomaly to them to have that you saying it’s because it was so foreign to them. And I wonder what kind of an experience it was for your sibling. I mean I
Well I’ll say the first thing that comes to mind when I think about what my sister’s experience must have been like and even some of my cousins because since my mom immigrated when she was younger a lot of her siblings are here in the Bay Area as well. And I had a lot of cousins around growing up as a second oldest. And I remember my older cousin when we were adults saying Michelle do you realize how difficult it was growing up with you. And again I think it was is part a blessing and a curse that I was good at that narrative right of doing doing well in school I think thankfully for my sister. We had my mom who and my sister was not not good at like all those things that. My dad kind of laid out. And again since my mom had had the Tiger Mom experience with her mom I think was able to be more supportive and encouraging for my sister as my sister tried to carve out what what does future look like for her.
But I think it also made me realize you know one of the reasons why I think a lot of people try to or at least especially people who do sometimes are kind of good at the plan get stuck on it is because if you’re good at it it’s easy. It’s a plan to do this step and this stuff and this stuff than this stuff. Maybe after you graduate and get that good job then you go on to get your MBA.
I think the rest and going this is path of following your passions or following what makes you happy is so much more unstructured. And I think that’s also part of the reason why my mom even though she had that intention for us is a lot harder to follow that path because you kind of have to chart it for yourself which is kind of the reason why I’ve become so passionate about this decision making piece because that’s ultimately what it is.
Learning how to make decisions that align with what you want which is not necessarily something we’re taught in school or Coaldale.
So one of the things I wonder is you know we’re particularly immigrants we were raised with that pursue success to know and narrative and yet so many people come to this realization that you have.
And why does it take that.
Why is it that I think that the probably you know we were talking about decision making and I recently wrote this piece on Medium saying that this is the greatest lie that you’ve ever been told. And I said the greatest lie that we’re ever told is that you have to choose from the options that are put in front of you. And I wonder why we do that and why we reinforce this narrative. Part of me thinks it’s because it works for the majority of people like nobody would argue that the results of your life were a disaster because you made these decisions. So I wonder why is it that we make decisions that ultimately end up being so dissatisfying.
I mean there’s there’s a few things there right. All right. So why is it that we make decisions that become so misaligned with what we actually want.
I think part of it is that we. So what my my personal rant is. Why is it especially now that I have a two year. Why is it that we ask kids so early. What do you want to be when you grow up. Yeah that adequate information on the options or what is it that they want. What is it that they enjoy. What is it that they’re good at. And so from a very early age where we’re locking people into these. Like you said existing options forgetting that especially in this day and age the jobs that are going to exist by the time they come of age are not even created yet. And maybe that’s what’s at the root of this before the economy that we’re in right now. There were only a handful of choices and a handful of things that you could be. Whereas technology and this economy has enabled an explosion of not only different roles you can take but also just different ways you can make a living. And we haven’t adapted our way of charter our paths forward. Again like before when there are limited choices yes. OK just pick one and you go for it. Now where a lot of the economy is fueled by creativity and innovation. We haven’t actually helped people think about how they might chart the way forward by making being intentional about how they evaluate their decisions.
Like so Sebaggala at Stanford when I’m studying decision engineering Ron Howard is the father of decision analysis would talk about how every single decision has three parts.
There are always options objectives and information and as a society we don’t we don’t even teach people that we only talk about the okay here are the options now choose. We don’t talk about how OK when we’re talking about options what are the ones we see obviously but also what other possibilities exist. When we talk about objectives sometimes we don’t even talk about objectives. We don’t talk about well what is it that you want. And here is this tool for how you can evaluate the options against these things that are really important to you and that you care about.
And then I also don’t think we talk about uncertainty and information that you may need or not need in a decision in a constructive way that people can process. So that decision making becomes easier. Like I feel like my personal mission is to be able to to help people understand how how they can view decisions in a way that is much more generative than necessarily just closing doors and picking one well we’ll come back to all of that.
Having heard my interviews you know that we’re barely scratching the surface so I definitely want to go deeper into all of that. But before we go there as somebody who was raised with the sort of you know cultural narrative of success go to college go to the best damn college you go to. Not only did you get into one of the best colleges in the country then you went and got a MBA at Berkeley which is my alma mater having kind of you know been funneled through what I guess would be effectively the elitist of all educational institutions. How do you think about the way that you’re going to educate your own child.
The honest truth.
I hope that higher education as it exists today will be disrupted by the time my son is of college age. So he’s 2 now we have 16 years to come up with a new better different system. But I feel like when I think about how I want him to move through the world I feel like the most important thing is actually possibly not necessarily the things he’s going to be learning in school like reading writing maths are all OK nice things that help you do other things. But the biggest thing that I hope he learns is how is it that he can create value for himself and for others.
So speaking of of how you create value. One if you had to go back to Stanford and you were asked to redesign the structure of the education system what would you change.
Oh I feel like my head is exploding right now because I also spent a little bit in education. I mean I
As wonderful as Stanford is of a place Berkeley too. I I really hate this like elitist exclusive structure that exists especially at the college level because it creates so much stress on people who are trying to do like do all the things that they’re supposed to do so that they can attain this endpoint.
But it isn’t the point. I wish that there were ways that we could talk about like how is it that we create value for ourselves and for society throughout the entire schooling of children from day 1 instead of 0 oh just follow these steps to get to this Edwy just follow the step to get to this end point.
That’s again in the world that we live in. We don’t know what then. There is no endpoint actual. And so why are we teaching kids that that’s the way to move through life.
Well I think that in my mind what I realized as an adult which you know now is rising 20 years after graduation is that life isn’t linear. Even though it taught to believe that it is in school I think the other thing. And DSIL probably piss off any of my Berkely friends who were listening to this or even Berkeley students. But the thing that struck me most was you know I recognize this in retrospect. I stood for a place that’s known for being so damn liberal. It has a hell of a breeding ground for conformity. It. I mean everybody basically works at investment banks and management consulting firms or goes to prestigious grad schools like these are your options choose them or die is kind of the narrative.
And I think it’s to your earlier question it then it’s no wonder that then people who have been taught that this is the way to live life arrive at a point where they thought oh wait. And I say that are I supposed to have beat it I guess.
Nice to have you hit that point and they realize the answer’s no. Because it isn’t linear. There is no
Let’s do this let’s shift gears. But one more question about this. We’re talking about the idea of the creation of value and we currently live in a capitalist society where I think for a large degree value is measured entirely based on how much wealth or how much money you can create.
Yeah I was writing something that was just you know sometimes I get any sort of light rumination narratives and I was like yeah you might have written a book you know about the virtues of creating for an audience of one but your publisher probably a hell of a lot happier if it’s sold to an audience of millions. Yeah because as far as you’re concerned you’re like they’re not in the business of making dreams come true they’re in the business of selling books. That’s the harsh reality of where we live. So I wonder you know when you think about value creation in society you think about the fact that we as an economic system primarily use capitalism. How do you think the value creation is going to change with time which is a total land mine and rabbit hole of a question.
I mean again I think if this is I’ll be honest this has been part of my struggle with my education decision engineering.
This is very much based on the economic model that yes all the things that are all things that are valuable are measurable and that I think is a paradigm that we have to get our heads out of.
Like how is it that that we can think about value in ways that are not measured by units of utility. I don’t have an answer for that. But I do have hope and faith that if if we are if we continue to commit to not falling into the trap of thinking that money is the end all be all.
The only thing worth measuring that we can find a path forward.
Now so you mentioned the word faith and I know earlier you spoke about church and I wonder what role does faith religion spirituality play in your life as an adult.
I feel like I’m a boomerang Catholic. I’ll say that I was raised in the Catholic tradition which is very common for Filipinos. And then I I left the church for a while because I was really angry at things that the institutional church was doing and standing for. And then I returned again because of this faith piece I think you know up until that point when I was executing against the plan right because I was God at it I thought that Oh yeah everything that comes about in my life is due to my own effort which is really like tempting and sexy thing to be able to believe because if things are going well it’s like oh yeah I did this and then I realized how incredibly limiting that is to think that everything that happens is just a product of my effort.
And I realized that if I wanted to think beyond the things that you know like I could see possible it would require an act of faith.
And there have been some things that have happened in my life that was kind of like the universe just dropping a bomb on these and hey it’s not just all about you hear something like magically wonderful things that you want and never thought possible. But here again deliver it to you anyway.
And I think it was in those moments that I realized. Maybe it’s not just about me and my effort. And there is something else here at work that I realize the importance of faith I think also part of this does work in decision engineering and understanding and transforming how I think about uncertainty and risk. It’s been humbling and has also brought me back so you talked about faith in moments when good things happen.
What about faith in moments when bad things happen.
Because I remember going through a really really really rough period some sometime in 2014 and I met with an old professor from business school and she mentioned the idea of legend and she said I wonder you know has the possibility of exploring this or religious lens occurred to us. No. To be honest it’s made me question the existence of God.
And I think what comes to mind right now. For me it’s something that that I’m going through right now.
The guy I talked about it briefly on answers podcast Beth and going through some things. And I have no idea how they’re going to turn out.
Doctors can’t even tell me how things are going to turn out and I choose thay they thought I’m not even talking about like the faith that things are going to turn out.
But the faith that I I can move through this and not necessarily if this is happening for a reason. Buyat that there is something greater than myself going on here. Because of my commitment to what’s important to me which is to enjoy being in the present. And I think the alternative of not having faith is not consistent with how I want to be experiencing life.
Let’s do this. We’ll shift gears and let’s start talking specifically about this idea decision making. One you know what sort of planted the seed for your interest in this particular subject area and two can you expand on that decision making framework of options informations objectives and talk about the role that risk and uncertainty plays in all of those which I realize the answer to that question could be 20 minutes.
Let’s say it so what got me interested in decision making at first. Well to be honest I kind of fell into it. I went into college knowing I wanted to study engineering just because I was good at math and science and I didn’t want to become a doctor or a lawyer. So it seemed to be the next safest tech or good guy like that person with the parents. And as I was evaluating the different engineering disciplines that were available. One of the things that came up was industrial engineering which I wasn’t familiar with before. But someone told me was the engineering of efficiency like doing things better faster maximizing things optimizing things which all sound really interesting to me. And within that field there there was an area of study called decision engineering. And it’s really interesting because whenever I tell people that I studied decision engineering at Stanford the first response is always whoa that’s a they didn’t know that was a thing. And then the second response is wait so can you teach me how to make better decisions because I’m horrible at it. I hate decision making. And I find it really interesting because there’s there’s a lot of the energy around decisions like there’s so much stuff there like. And especially since we’re on this Fokus it’s interesting because I think the hang ups people have around decisions are the same hang ups that keep people from being able to be creative and generative like there’s this overwhelming there’s just so much going on so many different things devaluate and people can feel really lost like not knowing which way to go or like where is the compass for being able to find direction.
There’s a lot of fear of doing it wrong. And again like having been someone who who really liked the idea of planning and optimization and like oh well decision engineering seems like a really interesting discipline to learn some tools for how how to deal with that. And so like I talked about before crux of any decision there are options objectives and information and some of the key things that this discipline has taught me about each of those things is you know like you said earlier we were taught ever since we were little that oh decisions are just about choosing from the options that are put in front of you. And one of the pieces that comes up in decision engineering is really questioning that. OK you may have these options that seem obvious but what else is there like whenever people say oh I don’t have a choice. Not true. I actually did have a choice. There’s probably another option that you just really really really didn’t like but it’s useful to be able to call out that option and really push yourself to look at what are the things that are not immediately coming to mind.
Because I’ll give you broader consideration side and ability to make better decisions or a decision that you may not have made otherwise if you’re just looking at the obvious in the in the objectives piece.
Again I don’t think we as a society Adley give people enough leeway and time to think about well what what are your objectives. So when I talk about objectives it’s you know what is it that you want in the outcome and even going beyond that. Okay other things that you can think of the things that you want in your outcome what is really the things you want versus what your parents have told you you should want or society is telling you. But can you sift through those things. Grealy what are the objectives that that matter when we are evaluating these various options. Then there’s the information piece information being you know what is information that we have on how each one of those options may deliver on the objectives that we have. And this is where where I feel like I’ve done the most growth not actually during the time I was studying decision engineering but in the time afterwards because one thing I’ll say is decision engineering is usually a field reserved for the business world because it’s based on economic principles on measurable things and I’ve been unpacking well what are some of the tools from this discipline that are applicable to human decision making.
Because we’re not robots and. I think going back to this information piece we are never going to have all the information and that’s something that has taken me a lot of time to come to grips with. Like I’m like I’m the type of person who loves knowing for the sake of knowing even if it’s not going to change anything. And that was kind of a really interesting concept for me to learn information has value. If it’s going to help you make a different decision or change a course of action. If it’s not really then that information doesn’t have much value and like that and that was really top of mind for me like when when as I’m going through these things because initially actually I’ll just summarize in a nutshell about a year ago. This time last year I was sitting in the E.R. and ICU and a doctor was holding up a picture of an x ray saying yeah. So you have this growth in your throat that’s not supposed to be there.
We don’t know what it is and we won’t know until we can operate on you and of course immediately I go into freak out mode.
I feel like gosh what.
And then my training reminded me wait a minute is there anything that you can actually do with that information. Does that information actually going to change anything right now. Except for make you feel that are incredibly afraid. And so it’s been interesting at least for me really thinking about oh ok what is the information especially in this age where information so readily available. What is the information that we actually need. What is information that actually makes a difference and where where can we keep moving forward without information. Because it may not actually make a difference. Right now the decision isn’t actually to be made right now. And that’s the other thing decisions are not about what we cannot control.
They are about what we can and so in that moment of not having any control over what was happening.
The one thing I could control was well how did I want to process and view the situation. From a place of fear
Replace a. Wow. So many more questions. From that. So
I think that the thing that struck me most is we have a framework that’s based on economic principles. But then you have to deal with the fact that we’re human and we’re not logical we’re emotional. So why do we make bad decisions. And what role do emotions playing those decisions. When is it appropriate for emotions to play a role and when do we when it is more appropriate. Not for the I’m not a player.
Well first I want to take them on this piece around bad decisions because what exactly makes for a bad decision. Is it when things don’t turn out well. And in that case I wouldn’t say that that’s a bad decision because what a lot of people confound is are a lot of people think that the quality of a decision is the same as the quality of an outcome. Where as that’s not actually true. So for example OK is really cloudy in the Bay Area today and it almost looks like it could rain let’s say that I look up a weather report and it says 15 to 20 percent chance of rain and I’m deciding whether or not to take my son out to the park and because 15 to 20 percent. Not that high.
I go to the park and then it starts raining was that a bad decision. I mean I didn’t decide for it to rain. I just made a decision.
Given the information that I had and so I think a lot of people feel like oh my gosh I made this bad decision where they may not have actually made a bad decision and may just have been that the things outside of their control turned out in a way that they didn’t quite like. And so I think even first before we start talking about you know bad decisions by me make bad decisions. We should look at you know how are we defining the quality of a decision. Are we falling into this trap of thinking that oh the quality the outcome directly reflects the quality of that decision. Are we seeing that there are actually distinct for one another. Wow.
So you framed that in the example of you know creating an umbrella and having it rain. But what about when the stakes are a lot higher when it’s potentially an intimate relationship or a significant investment in your business. In those cases you know I think that it becomes like you said very easy to conflate the cost of the decision with the quality of the outcome because if you make a substantial investment and you lose it you can say Well that was a shitty decision. I’d say it’s a shitty outcome but also I think you know we
We place a lot. I think a lot of people have this anxiety around decision making because we also think that there’s just one going to make this one decision and. Then that’s it. And then the rest of our lives are based on that decision and we forget that. Ok so things didn’t turn out likely due to some kind of like resolution of and and certainty that we could not have known in advance anyway whenever I remember those three parts of any decision the you know your options objectives information you have on the two intersect.
Whenever any of those change you have an opportunity to make a new decision.
And I think we forget that.
So let’s say that the outcome is not to your liking. You know it could be a failure of some sort it could be a relationship that doesn’t work and so often I think the of tendency at that moment is to basically be consumed by grief for whatever it is like you kind of go at least for me. I have a tendency to go into these sort of spirals. So I wonder you know back to that question of how do we know when emotion is an appropriate as an appropriate place in our decision. Are there places where your emotions should be completely left out of a decision that should be completely objective or is that even humanly possible.
So I would say it’s it’s not humanly possible to keep emotions out of it. But I do think we can get more curious about what where are the emotions coming from. And so you know some of the tools that I use from decision engineering are useful for being able to just like get everything that’s in our hands on paper so that you can just see what’s going on and then if emotions come up at least having things on paper or having things somewhere where you can look at things and then comparing and contrasting them to what’s going on emotionally usually helps my clients uncover well what is the emotion they are really like.
Is is the fear really coming from like the fact that this may not turn out good or is the fear coming from just simply that this may not have been done before.
Got I think another thing that a lot of people confuse is uncertainty and risk. Risk is more of the possibility of bad things that will happen. RAZ uncertainty is simply the possibility of things that we don’t anticipate or we don’t know will happen happening. Like I remember three years ago I had an I might call it a tangent here but like I said I very much historically have been very much a planner like I’m a risk averse person. And so when people are just like oh you’re not very much so were listed. I’m a risk averse person but I’m willing to take calculated risks or at least evaluate uncertainties for what they are. And I think one of the practices that helped them do that was. Playing travel roulette three years ago. So usually I’m one of those people who totally needs to have a plan planned out the entire itinerary whenever we go traveling. And my husband totally broke me up that habit because he’s a very very different person he’s more in the moment with the flow which was crazy making when we were first dating.
I’m learning to have more of that and end one of the things that I realized would be a good practice for myself is really leaning into dealing with uncertainty and viewing uncertainty for what it is and not like always thinking that it’s about the risk of bad things happening. And what really solidified that for me was plane travel. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this before. Travel roulette is basically when you pack a bag. You go to the airport without a destination in mind. And then upon arrival at the airport you book a ticket for under what five hundred bucks and you go and I remember having a lot of anxiety but I figured you know this.
This would be a good thing even if things turned out bad it be good for developing resilience and doing this like being in the moment and roll with things thing that my husband does.
And that trip turned out way better than anything I could have ever planned.
And that’s when I realized you know we we get into this habit of you know this like reaction of fear whenever uncertainty comes up because we’re so conditioned to fear the bad things that may happen that we forget that uncertainty is also the possibility of wonderful things happening.
So anyways backwards tracking that was a really long tangent. But your original question was emotion. What when is it appropriate for them to play into our decision making and when is it not appropriate. I mean as humans it’s impossible to extract emotion and get rid of the emotion entirely. I think of emotion as just another data point but we shouldn’t react to the emotion simply Oh fear bad.
Really take the time to get curious about where is it really coming from.
One other question that came from me as you were talking about that and the trouble rillette so so much of what we do when we make decisions is about prediction of a future outcome. And yet I can’t tell you the number of people who have come back to me over and over again on the show and talked about the role the presence plays in our well-being and how much happier we are when we’re present and I think I wrote this somewhere in an article I said you know anxiety is basically trying to control what you can control. Depression is trying to change what you can’t change. How do you balance that need to be present with the ability to make decisions that will have a positive impact on your future. Because I can make short term decisions that potentially could have long term costs and vice versa.
I think it’s possible. When I think about decision making it’s an act of being able to exercise your power of choice in a way that aligns with what you want it or what’s most important to you. And I think it’s possible to be in the present and at the same time envision the future. I know that sounds like totally opposed but I think that’s being able to acknowledge that. Both are possible to be in the present and also have that hope for the future. Ken had the key to
Being happy. Right.
Because if are always focused on the future we don’t get to enjoy the present for not far always focused on the present. We may not make good decisions for the future. I don’t think I answered your question at all. It has very like the big questions but that’s just what came to mind.
I think you did it. Yeah well. As far as. What you teach. Well I guess mean with a 2 year old I’m guessing he’s not making any decisions but
Your parents are listening to this.
What do you think that they should be teaching their kids about decision making as somebody who has this perspective.
I I’m thinking about a time a couple years ago I was hanging out with my husband’s niece and we were playing a card game and she had to decide which one of the cards she was going to put down the deck. And of course because she didn’t know what what cards we had she didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.
I could see on her little face she’s like 8 years old. But little like wrinkles between the eyebrows and just like the wrinkles in her forehead stressing out so much about this decision.
And I remember saying Sasha just make the best decision you can with the information you have.
Now she took a deep breath and chose.
And I think that’s that’s the thing like focusing on the piece that we can control and acknowledging the part that we don’t and can’t control. I think the most important lesson to be teaching especially kids because otherwise it can be so stressful. Right.
I think for me particularly Sarah when it comes to creative work particularly with this last book Can the message of a largely being that idea that you really don’t have a lot of control over how people will respond to your creative work.
But I think what’s great about you and some of the work that you’ve put out there is focusing on that process. I like focus on what is it that you can control. I can write a thousand words every day. I don’t know what’s going to come out necessarily. I don’t know how people respond to it but that’s the piece that I can control. Be at peace with I think that’s been a really empowering message for you to share with people.
Wow. I can see why Sarah referred to as a yes so I have one last question. I know you’ve heard me ask. What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable.
I think you know someone who’s mistake unmistakable is someone someone who chooses to exercise their agency in the world. They’re choosing to use this piece that they can control like someone who instead of letting the world happen to them chooses to make the world happen at least a piece of the world that they can make happen. I think it’s someone who’s developed that resilience to serve what they cannot control and the times that matter most identify what it is that they can control. And keep choosing what is important to the every single day because ultimately decisions don’t have to be hard especially if we can develop the discipline of listening deeply to ourselves and cultivate the courage to exercise our power of choice where we can.
We can do anything.
While I think that makes a really fitting and poetic end to a really insightful conversation. Where can people find out more about you.
You’re working every night they can find me. Michelle Florindo dot com or I’ll say the only social media channel that I tend to be on is on LinkedIn so they can follow me there as well.
Awesome. And for everybody else thing we’ll wrap the show