- Thoughts for inspired living

March 2, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:27 am

Debates rarely change minds. Think back on the recent presidential debates. You most likely went in with a horse and came out with the same horse. Anything that your candidate said that resonated with the crowd, you underscored; anything they said that made the people meter dip, you ignored.

If you’re the debater, you’re so focused on making your points and solidifying your position that you don’t make room to learn anything new.

Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago I attended a focus group that was being held for the radio station I worked for. Four of us who worked at the station were seated behind a one-way glass in another room, apart from the focus group participants and moderator.

Every one of us entering that room had a stated idea of what the station should be doing to be more successful – more music, more personality, less commercials, less talk, more sports reporting, etc.

After viewing and hearing the group participants answer questions and offer opinions about our station and the DJs who worked there, the four of us went across the street for a bite to eat. Not surprisingly, each person brought out of that focus group a comment that made their aforementioned point. There may have been 10 points to the contrary made by the group, but that’s the one they remembered and continued to argue for.

Reminds me of a more recent story . . .

I was talking to a friend over the weekend who was debating whether to attend an upcoming workshop. She had been going back and forth in her mind all day about whether to attend or not. I offered that debating for that long is similar to debating who’s going to win a professional basketball game for the whole game. The statistics are that victory in an NBA game comes down to the last two minutes. My point was that she was taking up her entire day with an activity whose outcome could be arrived at more efficiently and with less debate.

Then The Grasshopper hopped in to the conversation and said this:

“Anytime you have a debate in your head, you’re stalling a decision.”

Debating does nothing to change anything; it just prolongs the debate. The sad thing is that when presented with this reality, we give it temporary props, and then go back to the debate.

We’ve been conditioned that if we talk about it long enough, we will make a better decision. Here’s the logic to kick that logic to the curb: You were smart enough to appreciate both sides of the debate after it ran through your head a couple of times. The continuation of the same debate after that point is abuse of the highest order, and it delays deciding.

How do you stop abusing yourself and arrive at decision more quickly? Stop debating. It’s that simple.

But how?

Notice the debate while it’s going on. The mere noticing of your internal ping pong match will interrupt the debate. The more often you interrupt the debate, while it’s happening, the quicker you’ll arrive at a decision.

Decisions make you – you don’t make them. Look at your decision history. Just notice that, in the past, when you arrived at a decision, the decision just showed up. It never comes out of debate. It comes from the quiet place that has no room for debate.

Yes, the debate may start the decision process but it never completes it – it prolongs it.

I can think of nothing more boring than watching congress debate something on C-Span. The posturing and feigned bipartisanship speeches are as predictable as the first 46 minutes of an NBA game. The debate doesn’t change anyone’s mind and delays the vote – the decision.

You can decide more quickly and efficiently by cutting off the debate. This happens more easily when you trust that there is a part of you that decides. Hint: It’s not the debater.

Think of the process like a bench trial in court. The jury is waived and the judge decides. Present each side of the debate to the judge and then go have lunch. The judge will let you know when they’ve arrived at a decision. They always do.

You have lots of practice debating and very little interrupting. Practice improving your weakness until it becomes a strength and notice how quickly you decide.

I’m thinking of creating a bumper sticker to reinforce this post – ABATE THE DEBATE!

All the best,


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