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Vol 17|No 6|Summer|2021

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"Why not?""
"Porquoi pas?"
"Porque no?"

by Jamie McKenzie (about author)

What are we supposed to think when facing a tremendous challenge that is risky as well as promising?

It calls for wondering.

"What's the worst that could happen?"

"Is this something I must do? How will I feel if I turn down the opportunity?"

"How can I maximize my chances of success and reduce the risk of failure?"

"Am I in danger if I do nothing, if I pass up this chance?"

"Why not give it a try?"

"Porquoi pas?"

"Porque no?"

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

  • Should I try out for varsity?
  • Should I try to qualify for the Olympics?
  • Should I try out for a singing group?
  • Should I try out for a lead in the play?
  • Should I ask for a raise? a promotion? a transfer?
  • Should I file a complaint against my boss for sexual harassment?
  • Should I take pills to manage my blood pressure? my cholesterol? my blood sugar?
  • Should I start a serious exercise program?
  • Should I take the COVID vaccine?
  • Should I marry this man?
  • Should I divorce this man?
  • Should I start a new business?

Why not?

Fools rush in

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

This old phrase attributed to Alexander Pope in his 1711 poem An Essay on Criticism "alludes to inexperienced or rash people attempting things that more experienced people avoid."

What behaviors distinguish between the champion risk taker and the fool?

The thesaurus supplies some great words related to "rash."
reckless, impetuous, impulsive, hasty, overhasty, foolhardy, incautious, precipitate, precipitous, premature, careless, heedless, thoughtless, imprudent, foolish, headstrong, adventurous, overadventurous, hotheaded, daredevil, devil-may-care, overbold, audacious, indiscreet; ill-considered, unconsidered, unthinking, ill-advised, injudicious, ill-judged, misguided, spur-of-the-moment, unthought-out, harebrained, unwary, unguarded, wild
Wondering is often thought of in a dreamy sense, but in this case, it is more watchful, more cautious and more circumspect. Risk assessment is a fundamental element in planning for success, just as "due diligence" is a basic element -- investigation, audit, or review -- conducted before making an investment.

Don't fall in love with a dreamer

What's wrong with dreamers?

In the Kenny Rodgers song with that title, a dreamer will break your heart. When dreamers take crazy risks without considering the consequences, they often become failures, while dreamers who approach their challenge skillfully have a chance to make their dreams come true.

Wondering is a kind of thinking that helps when exploring unusual possibilities. Edward deBono called this "lateral thinking." Note www.edwdebono.com/debono/lateral.htm Sometimes called "thinking outside of the box," lateral thinking is the engine that powers divergent thought.

De Bono came up with the "PMI Plus, Minus, Interesting Strategy" -- a creative lateral thinking tool. The PMI tool can be used to analyze the implications or consequences of actions. Source

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PMI was developed by Edward deBono as a way to consider the pros and cons of a decision, an idea or an issue while generating new possibilities that flow in the third column as a result of the "juxtaposition" (contrast) created in the first two columns.

Take a look at this outline of the strategy at deBono's site here.

Force Field Analysis

Force field analysis is another model to structure careful thought about decisions. "It provides a framework for looking at the factors that influence a situation, originally social situations. It looks at forces that are either driving movement toward a goal or blocking movement toward a goal." (Wikipedia) You can find a full explanation of this model at MindTools.

Get vaccinated? Why not?

Health decisions should be made with a degree of caution and skepticism. It is sometimes wise to ask for a second or third opinion when a course of action is reccomended. In my own case, I chose a treatment for my prostate cancer 25 years ago that conflicted with the advice of my urologist. As an older person I have chosen to use exercise and diet to keep my blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels healthy rather than medications and pills.

When it came to flu shots, I did not bother with them as I did some research and came to feel a healthy runner did not need them. As for vaccines, I grew up with the smallpox and polio vaccines being a welcome part of childhood along with regular tetanus shots.

As for COVID, I carefully researched the vaccines available to me while living in Turkey this year, checked out the data on their effectiveness and decided the vaccine was an important strategy for me to avoid death by COVID. In the photo above I am taking my second dose of Pfizer's BioNTech. My decision was data driven, as I looked for evidence of effectiveness as well as any dangers or side effects these shots might pose.

I also did "due dliligence" -- considering the various allegations floating about as some hoped to generate fear and resistance to the COVID vaccines. I turned to "Vaccine Myths Debunked" at Publichealth.org where they discuss myths being spread by vaccine opponents:
  • Vaccines cause autism
  • Infant immune systems can't handle so many vaccines
  • Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity.
  • Vaccines contain unsafe toxins
  • Better hygiene and sanitation are actually responsible for decreased infections, not vaccines
  • Vaccines aren't worth the risk
  • Vaccines can infect my child with the disease it's trying to prevent
  • We don't need to vaccinate because infection rates are already so low in the United States
I also made a list of the COVID myths being spread:

  • Microchips are being inserted along with the vaccine.
  • The vaccine is an instrument of depopulation. ďA massive death wave will be witnessed later this year among those who took the vaccine."
  • The vaccines change human DNA.
  • The vaccines will make you impotent or infertile.
  • Researchers rushed the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted.
  • COVID is a hoax.
  • Only the elderly and the obese die from COVID.
I could find no evidence to support these claims. Because they seemed fanciful and preposterous rather than scientific and fact-based, I did not let them scare me away from the vaccine. As the number of cases is surging again where I live in Turkey, I am pleased with my vaccination and the protection it provides.

Why not?

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