April 25, 2024

Decision, Decisions

Rewrite the rulesLife success guru Tony Robbins said, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

I think it’s subtler than that. I think we make decisions about a lot of things that don’t lead to action, but do lead to what I call “rule revision.” And revising the rule can make a huge difference in our lives.

I make judgments all the time. “This works for me.” Or “This does not work for me.” Judgments are the precursors to decisions. Some judgments stop right there—it’s bad, good, useful, wasteful, attractive, ugly. Depending on how these judgments affect me personally, they can lead to an action…or not.

I see judgments as the conduit for data that helps me modify my “rules of life.” If I continually judge someone as antagonistic, then eventually I will create a rule that this person is to be avoided. Truth be told, I’ve even made that rule after one interaction. Would that be an “action” to Tony Robbins?

Let’s go back to the beginning. By now you’ve picked up on the fact that I believe most of my “rules of life” were cast by the time I was six or seven.

Those rules are the result of many, many decisions I made about things like those below (think about these things from a child’s perspective):

  • How do I get what I want?
  • Can I get what I want?
  • How do I win an argument?
  • Which arguments are worth winning?
  • What’s my role in the family?

These rules were constructed by decisions I made as a result of interactions, experiences, and judgments. The decisions didn’t necessarily result in any Tony Robbins “action,” but they are there to tell me what my “action” should be if a certain event occurs again.

Hope that makes sense.

By now you realize that these actions, based on rules created by decisions made a long time ago, aren’t the result of present decisions. Instead, they are reactions. They allow me to operate on autopilot, which I like because it’s easy and comfortable.

That’s why we build these rules in the first place. It’s comfortable knowing what to do or say in certain situations…and I can just let my rules do that for me.

Now when did I write the rule about being right all the time? Or the one about getting my way? About coloring between the lines? That everybody gets their stuff before I get mine? When I was a child. These rules become our DISC, Kolbe, or Myers-Briggs profiles. Ever wonder why they’re so embarrassingly accurate? Because our rules are so deeply and firmly embedded that our reactions (not actions) are incredibly predictable.


I decide (by observing my predictable reactions and the corresponding results) that this rule isn’t working for me anymore. Now I can execute a Tony Robbins action—not one that simply changes my response at that moment, but one that literally rewrites the rule. Making a decision to do one thing…take one action…can be productive. But making a decision to change a rule that has been hindering my success is significantly more powerful.

The challenge I have with the Tony Robbins decision/action program is what happens the next time the situation arises. Assuming this action took me out of my comfort zone, there is a high risk that next time, my old unmodified rule (comfort zone) will push back. Until I change the rule that inhibits my growth, my growth will be stunted.


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