Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Filling the 'Need Vacuum'

Aftermath of the 1900 Galveston hurricane
Photo Credit: RitaInfo.com

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need, but not for man's greed.” - Mohandas Gandhi

If you aren't from Texas, you may have never heard of the coastal town of Galveston. Back around the end of the 19th century, Galveston was a thriving port and a booming city. Galveston in the late 1800's was the Houston of today! But on September 8, 1900, the greatest hurricane in America's history hit... the proud Galveston was reduced to rubble, her survivors left battered and homeless.

In the wake of that storm, a vacuum known as 'need' was created. Neighbors who were able helped those who weren't, and folks who had gave to those who had not. The federal government was not called upon for financial aid. Within three weeks, telegraph, water, and public transportation systems were restored!

Fast-forward 105 years and go a little east to examine Hurricane Katrina. There are two lessons here to take from that disaster:

  1. When the government puts their hands on, people take their hands off. People will not act where they are not needed. Given enough time, a sense of entitlement takes over and, rather than the gratitude seen in 1900, we end up with news-media, talking heads, and politicians, all crying foul over how Washington didn't act fast enough or on a large enough scale.
  2. Despite point #1, people everywhere flocked to help! Human beings are WIRED TO FILL NEEDS!!! Donations poured in and people came out to help rebuild. I say that, if our federal government hadn't lifted a finger or spent a dime, New Orleans would have still been rebuilt, because people would have filled the need vacuum.

Consider this: There was a time in America...

  • ...when grandma came home to live with the family because there was no Social Security.
  • ...when people who needed help with medical bills would find it in a caring neighbor, a church congregation, or even the kind doctor who would discount their price to whatever could be afforded.
  • ...when families who needed food and clothing did not get them from child tax credits and food stamps, but from the kindness and help of others.

That time is today! Even though it is on a lesser scale, there are still needs, so people still fill them. Take away every government subsidy and welfare program, and a giant need vacuum will open up... but people will fill it, because they want to and are wired to!

The best things about people helping people are the millions of small scale 'need-transactions' that are each individually held to accountability. If your neighbor is truly unable to work, you would feel good about helping them, right? But would you help someone who just didn't feel like getting out of bed to look for a job? Of course not! People helping people has accountability built into the personal nature of it. Talk about a solution to welfare abuse!

What do you think? If we weaned our nation off its addiction to government aid, would people step up to fill the needs of their fellow Americans?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Decision Making: Instinctive vs. Impulsive

Photo Credit:
Limkokwing Cambodia MBA Programme
What is the difference between instinctive and impulsive decision making? Both are made in a snap moment, but they carry very different outcomes. Impulsive decisions are often justified by saying, “I was acting on instinct.”

An impulsive decision is one that satisfies an immediate desire, regardless of the bigger picture or the final outcome. It is rooted in selfishness and greed. The adulterous spouse makes an impulsive decision.

By contrast, an instinctive decision considers the situation at hand, figures out the best outcome, and acts immediately. It comes from a place of innate selflessness. The soldier who dives on a grenade to save his platoon is making an instinctive decision.

There are several things which tip snap judgment in favor of the impulsive and repress our instinctive nature, among which are:
  • Alcohol & drugs
  • Constant stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Turning off the brain and turning on the TV (escapism)
  • Consistently waiting until the last minute to do things
  • Hanging around with people who make impulsive decisions

Avoiding the above things (and others that elicit the same effects) will bring snap decision making to center. There are also things which can help hone our instincts:
  • Prayer / Meditation
  • Reading the thoughts of people whom you admire & respect
  • Take quiet time, each day, to sort out what is going on. Sometimes our instincts are just smothered by an unsorted, unresolved mess in our brains. For some, writing out thoughts really helps things come together and organize.

Impulsive decisions solve an immediate want and never go more than one layer deep into the awareness of a situation. Instinctive decisions are the true 'snap judgment calls', as they take an immediate look towards the best end of a situation and quickly identify the path to get there.

What is a situation in your life story where instinct won out over impulse? Why did your instinct prevail over immediate satisfaction?