Monday, May 8, 2017

Review of the Behavioral Model

The ideas and examples I share twice a week have two objectives.  First, they are intended to demonstrate the skill of observing and classifying behavior.  If I see certain actions or read certain words, I try to associate them with one or more of the key dimensions and show how better behavior in this dimension leads to more favorable outcomes.  With a little practice anyone can reach the point where observing behavior automatically calls to mind the appropriate dimension.  Dealing with five dimensions instead of millions of individual choices brings a sense of organization and the ability to attack what seems like an overwhelming problem.

The second purpose is to act as a thought-starter, to get everyone thinking critically about what is going on around us in America outside the political realm, about common matters that touch our lives every day.  We may agree or disagree, but we will be dealing with behavior and the reasons it may be beneficial or harmful.  We critique the behavior and opinions and not the character or motives of the ones we disagree with.  Everyone will surely not agree with all the ideas presented, but if most hit the target, it will be a big step toward changing the direction of the country, a direction that has demoralized the majority of Americans for decades.  We can change that direction simply by changing behavior.

When you think about it, the biggest contributor to personal success or failure, whether it be in large or small matters, is behavior – what you say or what you do.  Luck and circumstance play a role, but what you do with them, the choices you make, have the greatest impact.

Ultimately, individual choices, the decisions and outcomes for each of us, accumulate into what we see as our societal condition.  Though each individual contribution may seem small, the results can be either impressive or depressing.  For example, in 2014 slightly over one-quarter of Americans volunteered in one way or another.  The result was almost 8 billion hours of work donated to various causes – 8 billion!  Working together we can definitely make a difference.  But failing together leaves us in debt, overweight and anxious.

Today and for the past 20 years most Americans have been dissatisfied with the direction of the country most of the time.  Politicians have been promising to fix it through the actions of government.  But seen through the lens of behavior model, the solution is not in Washington; the solution is in the hands of citizens through the power of accumulated individual contributions.  It takes the behavioral model to show the connections between so many of today’s unsatisfactory outcomes and the core problem, faulty personal choices.

The link is through the five key dimensions:  economic understanding, discipline, responsibility, critical thinking and perspective.  Small improvements in each of these areas allow Americans to turn around the downward trend.  Small numbers add up quickly.  By recognizing small errors and turning them around, we can make a difference and move ahead.

These are the only real solutions.  Together we can do it.

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