Dyad: Exploring The Nature of Decision

Sitting face-to-face in a dyad

David Engel and Greg Clowminzer use the dyad process to intimately define what every marketer is after–decision.


David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: A decision is a mental, strategic move, in order to avoid some future consequence.

David: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: It’s not a spontaneous act. A spontaneous act is without thought; it’s something that just happens. That’s not a decision.

David: Got it. Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: I can also feel a decision in my body. There may be tension in certain spots. A decision is like energy that’s locked up like water in a dam. It’s gotta find a spot to exit. Wherever it exits becomes the decision.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

David: A decision is conscious, and it may be unconscious as well. Whether people know what they’re doing or not, they’re deciding things. So, I don’t know what a decision is not right now.

Greg: Thank you.

David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: A decision is adding meaning to something. It’s when one perceives a desirable outcome or perceives an undesirable outcome.

David: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: A non-decision is an act in the moment, without any thought of the future… an act in the moment without any thought of the future is not a decision.

David: Got it. Thank you.

Greg: It’s just a choice in the moment.

David: Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: For me, a decision is a choice. It’s all somehow lumped together… I don’t know what the difference between the two of those is. I think they’re both one.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision isn’t.

David: A decision is not… well… I’m thinking about my dog right now and how she does things. I don’t think she’s really deciding anything. She’s just kind of doing stuff.

Greg: Thank you.

David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: When I think of decision, I think that I’m on a timeline. If I act or behave in a certain way, what will be the outcome of that event? Decision is very linear. It’s very strategic. It’s very, “If I do this, what will be the effect?”

David: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: Simply being is not a decision.

David: Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: A decision is connected to something emotionally… something deeper than the thing itself. Like, I may decide to drink water. But that’s not because I want to drink water. It’s because I’m thirsty and feeling pain. To make the pain go away, I drink the water. Or, I may anticipate some future event… maybe I’ll run out of water. So, I go to the store and stock up on a couple of gallons of water so I don’t run out during that day or week or whatever. I’ve decided to buy the water only because I’m fearful of how uncomfortable it would be to run out.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

David: After saying that, I’m thinking about fear. A decision is not trust. It’s me thinking, “I have to do something because I can’t trust that it’s going to be okay. I have to make it happen.”

Greg: Thank you.

David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: What’s coming up is it’s like an inner vote. It’s like, “Do I vote for health reform, or not?” If it gets passed, there’s this inner decision to pass health reform, but it’s not implemented yet. It’s just a decision; it’s like a vote. So, decisions are like inner votes. How many vote for buying a new car? How many vote for not buying a new car? How many vote for calling her back? How many vote for not calling her back? It’s like this inner dilemma. Like there’s a voting system, around what I want.

David: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: A decision is not action. It’s just kind of a mental reconciliation of the possible actions to take.

David: Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: I’ve got this image of a kid pulling off petals from a flower, “She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me…” and {chuckles} it’s really all just a mentation. The flowers aren’t going to tell me if she really loves me. It’s like the mind trying to wrap itself around whatever event needs to happen. It’s an illusion that’s created by the mind itself. All the pieces on the chessboard are created by the mind that’s making the decision.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

David: A decision is not letting someone else decide for me. Or, maybe that is the decision sometimes – to let other people decide for me.

Greg: Thank you.

David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: What’s coming up is that decisions are all fear based. They’re trying to predict the least unfavorable outcome. It’s simply rallying the inner landscape and preparing it for the action to take.

David: Got it. Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: Love is not a decision. Love just is.

David: Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: For me, a decision is the same as buying something. It’s buying or selling something. Everything that’s coming to me right now… that has been coming to me this whole time… I’ve been thinking about making a buying decision. “What isn’t a buying decision?” Then, I go and think about another buying decision. So, I’m just realizing how married my whole world is to having people make buying decisions. That’s like everything.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

David: I’m having a hard time right now because I’m thinking that even ‘not deciding’ is a decision to not decide. So, I have no way right now to define what a decision is not.

Greg: Thank you.

David: I think that looking at life and the nature of it, there’s an infinite amount of decisions available. Right now I could wave my arms around. I just decided to lift up my hands. I could move here… or there… or there. And in computer programming, I can’t program a computer to randomly go across all these moments. But, I could hold my hands at 90 degree or at 81 degrees… there’s infinity right here in front of me. So, I don’t even know how to wrap my brain around a non-decision.

Greg: Thank you.

David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: A decision is the meaning I place on something. I’m 49 years old. I can decide that’s too old to date or too old to have children. I can look at my financial situation and decide that I’m too old to become a millionaire. I could make a decision on who I think I’m worthy of dating or not dating. I decided that I’m too smart to work for somebody else. That’s a decision I made. That means I’m going to be self-employed.

That decision caused a sequence of events in my life. So, I come back to what are some of the earliest decisions I’ve made that are actually impacting my life. Is that a decision that’s serving me? Or, is there another decision that could serve me better? So, decisions are “What series of events in my life have I decided mean something?”

David: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: A decision is not adding meaning to something. It’s allowing things to be as they are. It’s not over-labeling or over-defining things and not putting meaning into something, rather than just allowing it to be the way it is.

David: Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: This question is activating my mind – like electricity. Wow. I’m really present to my limited landscape… I really like advertising and that’s my thing. That’s my limited perception of reality – I’ve never had kids. I’ve lived in S. California my whole life. I’m present to how that experience of reality is influencing my decisions. And not just that. My emotions are influencing my decisions. Like, I might see a pretty girl and be afraid to talk to her. Maybe I’ve got some landscape about that in my head, but there’s emotion too. It feels fearful or uncomfortable, and that influences whether I introduce myself or not.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

David: I’m thinking of turning off the brain. To be with no mind, just total peace. A blissful state. That’s for sure what a decision is not.

Greg: Thank you.

David: Tell me what a decision is.

Greg: I see that there’s a kind of a pecking order of things. There’s the natural law of the universe. And just above that, there’s instincts. That’s what animals have and humans too. It’s a really low operating system. The next place up is decision making. From there, ones goes to choice, love or just allowing things to be. These are higher states. So, decision is kind of a low level operating system.

David: Thank you. Tell me what a decision is not.

Greg: What’s coming up is that a decision is somehow not necessarily in alignment with the natural law of things. It’s very much driven by ego and the will, rather than looking at the law of nature. And the reality of what’s happening and aligning with that rather than fighting it. Decisions seem more like a fight. They feel more defensive rather than to be in alignment with the harmonious flow of the universe.

David: Thank you.

Greg: Tell me what a decision is.

David: I’m thinking about trees… maybe I’ll save this for what a decision is not. A decision is… well it’s not something that trees do. I don’t think that trees decide jack. They just stand there. I’m growing an elm tree from a seed right now. It’s been a real inspiration for me. But animals make decisions. Moving things. Bugs make decisions, I guess. Rabbits make decisions. Humans make decisions. Decisions are things are that only moving things can make.

Greg: Thank you. Tell me what a decision isn’t.

David: When I see trees, I just imagine someone with their hands up, looking up to the sky like: “I surrender.” It’s got its hands up and it’s just taking in the energy – if someone cuts it with an axe, it doesn’t resist. It just takes it; it’s just surrenders. If fire comes and burns it, it doesn’t do anything. It’s rooted into the earth. It’s just there.

Greg: Thank you.


Greg’s Reflections

Decision, instinct, and choice are actually three separate things. Instincts are hardwired into the physical body; animals use instincts. Decisions come from the mind. They’re more intellectually based, more linear. Choice is from the heart.

Maybe advertising is moving out of decision mode, which is, “How do you manipulate people’s thoughts?” And maybe it’s moving into a place of choice, which is more heartfelt and connection based. Maybe that’s what social media is all about – connecting people’s hearts and giving them more choice through interconnectedness.

David’s Reflections

After this dyad, I realized that I was lumping decision, instinct and choice together.

NOTE: The thoughts shared here are not “the truth” rather a process of self-discovery for both David and Greg. We invite you to find a friend or associate and examine this inquiry for yourself.

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