I am a bit of a geek when it comes to human psychology and human behaviour. I find it to be one of the most fascinating topics on the planet. I love reading about it, hearing about it, and looking at how others behave and examining how I act. And I love it when I learn something that makes me stop and go hmmmm…
I was reading a Tony Robbins book (Money: Master the Game). In it, he refers to a study that was done about organ donation in various European countries.
In Sweden, 89% of drivers are organ donors vs. 4% in Denmark. What the study finds is that it isn’t based on culture, religion, or a belief system. It’s not even based on their feelings about organ donation. Instead, the stark difference can be attributed to the wording on the DMV form.
In Sweden, it says “Check here if you don’t want to participate in the organ donor program.”
In Denmark, it says “Check here if you want to participate in the organ donor program.”
Nobody likes to check the box!
When faced with a difficult choice, the majority of people will go with what’s chosen for them.
It’s not that people in Sweden care more about donating organs than the people of Denmark. That has nothing to do with it. It’s a complex topic and the people in both countries might actually care deeply, which makes it overwhelming.
If a decision is too complicated then we don’t know what to do. Tony Robbins goes on to explain, “If the problem is too overwhelming, we tend to just freeze and do nothing. Or we do what’s been decided for us.”
It’s easier that way.
If we had to investigate every angle of every scenario before committing to any decision we would never get anything done. Going along with the pack or the decision that’s been selected for us isn’t a character flaw. It’s a survival mechanism.
Now consider ALL of the decisions you have to make as a parent
A common complaint I hear from new mothers is that there are so many decisions: how to birth, where baby should sleep, what to eat, what stroller, car seat, furniture, bottles to buy. There’s childcare, school, how to deal with peer pressure, grief and the afterlife, beliefs in God, and the list goes on and on.
There are so many decisions! Too many.
In an era where we are “drowning in information but starving for wisdom” it’s no wonder we are overwhelmed.
To take the time to research and analyze each individual choice, and weigh the pros and cons before deciding would be ineffective and quite frankly unrealistic. We need to rely on others to tell us what to do. We need to follow the pack to some degree. We need to trust that others know what they’re doing and we can follow their recipe.
However, following the pack doesn’t always work in our best interest.
If you understand this limitation then you are ahead of the curve. If you understand that complexity is the enemy of execution then you’ll be a little more aware of how you’re making decisions, what’s preventing you from delving deeper into the issue, why you’re going along with the choice that’s been given to you.
Take what is probably the most controversial, confusing and overwhelming parenting topic right now: vaccines. How many of us would check the box to immunize our children if the default option is to do nothing?
Based on the DMV study, I’m guessing most of us wouldn’t check the box.
It makes me wonder what other decisions we think we’re making. What do we believe we’re in 100% control of, but really instead we are just defaulting to the choice given to us?
How many of our decisions are actually our own?