Nudge

Our current menu of choices today is affected by the decisions we made yesterday.

Let’s say, you give your two-year-old a snack and give them a choice between a lollipop or a carrot, it is almost certain that he will pick the lollipop every time.

A choice architect—someone that can help influence the options of others—could simply offer a carrot or an apple.

Over time these small and seemingly insignificant decisions add up. If you continue to paint yourself into a corner with the decisions you make, eventually, you will feel stuck.

What does it mean to be stuck?

It means that the system you have built doesn’t leave any room for mistakes and you can’t inject any more energy into the system to make it better.

Or

It could mean that you’ve created a problem with no end. The problem of infinity.

Either way, it’s a broken system for a reason.

The good news is that feeling stuck is not the same as not having any choices. We are rarely in situations with no choice just no easy choices left to make.

Far too often, we sit there and say here are my options (think of a menu at a restaurant or your preferred stations on your radio or A through D on the test) instead of asking ourselves why are the default settings this way?

Unfortunately, our culture shames those who chronically make bad choices again and again. Perpetuating the problem we end up lumping “those” people in a group of “poor character.” It’s a bad label and it is completely short-sighted.

The fact is if you were born in the circumstances someone else was born in and lived the life they lived and were taught the things they were taught, you would probably make the same decisions too.

If we shift our thinking just one degree to the left, we can see this isn’t an issue of character, this is an issue of a poorly built system.

A system error, not character flaws.

Instead of trying to fit everyone into a box, why don’t we simply draw a new one? A bigger one. A better one.

The actor plays the role of the script that is written. And for someone who wants to make great change happen, someone like you, you can greatly influence the people you seek to serve by creating a new narrative. By helping them build a better system that leaves them with better choices.

An apple or a carrot.

When given the chance, most people will choose to do the right thing. But when they can’t see the difference it makes then we are left with despair.

The opportunity is there for you to stand as a torch-bearer. To shine a light down a path of possibility and help others see what you see.

It’s how we can build a culture that we can all be proud of.