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ENGAGED INTELLIGENCE

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1*3*4
IMPROVING UPON
INFERENCING HABITS


You made a series of inferences as you completed the last exercise in the previous chapter. This exercise was intended to be a rabbit-hole for you. You probably used your mental habits (or inference-making habits) to complete this exercise. With these mental habits, you made decisions of value (deciding what was worth doing), priority (deciding what to do next) and method (actually doing it). All three of these action-based categories (valuing, prioritizing, and doing) are present in every case of decision-making. 

HABITUAL WAYS OF MAKING DECISIONS OF
QUALITY, PRIORITY AND METHOD

  • When faced with a new task, some people spend almost all of their time formulating the qualities that will guide the inferences they will make concerning value. For these people even decisions of priority and method are guided by the act of making these qualitative choices.

  • Others spend very little time formulating qualities and instead devote much of their time formulating the goals, stages, and phases necessary for making decisions of priority.

  • Still others spend most of their time in the act of accomplishing goals--that is doing or making something--and very little time formulating qualities or the goals they select.


Now, each of these habitual methods has a positive and a negative side to it. Some stages within every task require attending to the formulation of qualities. For some task stages the formulation of goals and priorities should take precedence--and, of course, there is the stage of every task for which taking action is the right thing to do.
People who spend most of their time formulating goals and priorities or acting on goals tend to have clear reasons for why they're doing whatever it is they're doing. Those who spend most of their time formulating qualities do not. The formulation of qualities is an activity of engaging with questions rather than answers; with possibilities, rather than reasons.

Most of us, however, operate within the goal-making and/or goal-achieving framework. We have reasons for what we do. All of our reasons, reasonable or not, result from our interpretations of events, not from any inherent meaning within the event itself. Deciding what something means requires an act of interpretation--a making of meaning by making inferences....

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