During the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable, those who gathered entered in to a discussion about the difference between resistance and opposition. The consensus of the leaders present was that resistance is really a form of feedback while opposition is a form of going against something in order to stop it from happening. As I reflected on all that was shared, I realized that during the Spring 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable we needed to explore and understand the difference between discernment and judgement.
In order to get greater perspective on the difference between discernment and judgement, I turned to the small group of people who I call my “Kitchen Table Cabinet.” These are the people I go to for a big picture perspective on a variety of subjects. They are the ones who make me think and who ask really good questions.
During my first meeting with one of my older cabinet members, I asked the question “What is the difference between discernment and judgement?”
He smiled and replied, “It is the ability to sort the wheat from the chafe, or the ability to sort the the goats from the sheep.”
I chuckled because this is a typical answer for him. However, as we dived into the subject at a deeper level, he said discernment is “the ability to organize your thoughts after participating in a series of listening post experiences.” As he explained, by listening carefully, a leader is able to discern what is the path forward.
Next, I went to another member of my Kitchen Table Cabinet who has traveled extensively in different parts of the world, and has a long term career in healthcare. He shared that “judgement is your conclusion. It is binary in nature. On the other hand, discernment is about exploring a range of questions and perspectives.” As he continued, when someone is involved in a discernment process, they have to ask the question, “What else could it be happening here?” This requires an individual to have the time and a space to reflect. “The main problem is that people jump to conclusions, judge or decide something without having all of the facts. This rush to conclusions will cause problems or result in unwarranted conclusions.”
After careful thought, I think this is the problem. There is not enough discernment in decision making. There is not enough careful thought being put into place before action. It is as if the world is addicted to going faster and faster, and to choose urgency without reflection. All of us as leaders need to define and schedule time for reflection and to defend this space like a mother with a new born child.
This week, schedule time for in-depth reflection. And then, give yourself permission to take.
As for me, I will now take my annual, late June time for reflection. I will be back in touch with all of you on Monday morning, July 2.