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Posts Tagged ‘journey’

 

One of the blogs that I follow is The Better Man Project, and a few days ago he wrote a blog entry on  escalation of commitment.  I enjoy his posts overall, but was especially intrigued by this one because I had never come across this term before.  Feeling the pull to learn more, I first stumbled upon this Wikipedia explanation:

 

Escalation of commitment was first described by Barry M. Staw in his 1976 paper, “Knee deep in the big muddy: A study of escalating commitment to a chosen course of action”.  More recently the term sunk cost fallacy has been used to describe the phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing the decision outweighs the expected benefit.

 

This led me to an abundance of psychological economic terms, including progress trap, dollar auction (fascinating!), “pot committed” (one of my favorites I found, used in poker  and referring to staying in a hand due to earlier bets, despite increasing likelihood that you will lose),  and lock-in (regarding decision making, “the escalating commitment of decision-makers to an ineffective course of action”).

 

Another article I found on escalation of commitment said this:

 

“Individuals often persist unduly with unsuccessful initiatives or courses of action. To illustrate, some advertisements do not increase the sales or reputation of the products they promote. Likewise, initiatives that are intended to raise productivity sometimes impair rather than enhance performance. Unfortunately, managers and employees often persist with advertisements or initiatives despite these failures. This tendency to maintain these floundering pursuits-especially endeavors in which they have invested heavily-is called escalation of commitment….. or sometimes entrapment”

 

According to this article, there are many reasons that escalation of commitment occurs:  mental accounting, inference of commitment or ownership, justification of behavior, self affirmation and justification of behavior, prospect theory, rule governance, and construal of the future.  It is clear to see how escalation of commitment is not limited soley to economics, but rather can easily be translated in the sociology and psychology of day-to-day life.  From my understanding, I believe some of the reasons (listed above) for it occurring can and do intertwine, and all of them are based on ego (which is self consciousness of either the head or the heart; Wisdom, in the truest sense of the word, can only exist when the head (intelligence) and the heart are combined).  It comes from a belief in lack and limitation rather than abundance and opportunity.  Getting locked-in as a result of escalation of commitment leaves a person or persons unable to see the other paths and possibilities towards what they truly desire.  It also blocks their vision from being able to see that rather than investing what they do not have towards the end goal, understanding that they already truly have what they need.  Escalation of commitment gives up the power to the ego and the “out there” rather than embracing the power and truth that already and always exists.  Better said, I am reminded of what a dear friend said to me recently– “What if you already have everything you need?”

 

While reading and learning about this concept(s), one of my biggest personal examples came to mind.  I was nineteen years old, engaged for only a few hours to a twenty-three year old “man” I had known for only 6 months, had dated for 4, and we were on an airplane to Las Vegas to secretly elope.  Not 24 hours prior we had been broken-up.  Once on the plane, I was internally vomiting.  Looking back I can see that I obviously knew it was not the right decision, but I did not consciously acknowledge that at the time.  I had already said yes.  We were already on the plane.  We had spent $1400 to get the tickets last minute.  “Obvious” reasons for why I couldn’t possibly “back down.”  After returning to real life, and reality setting in, it’s not surprising that problems soon arose.   Even then, my escalation of commitment was steadfast, as by then I was already married.  I had made the commitment, and I couldn’t just walk away from that.  But it was more that than, it was not wanting to admit fault, not wanting to be alone (even if for the wrong reasons), not wanting to be seen as a failure once again in my parents’ eyes.  It was 1000% ego, head heart (separately, but both), and not understanding that none of what I was letting rule my decisions and actions had any true power but that what I gave it.  Had I been more grounded in my True Self at that time, I wouldn’t have made the irrational decision to get on the plane to begin with, but had I even gotten that far and known, I would have acted upon the Truth that I am enough; that no thing or person outside of me was needed to verify or validate this Truth, nor could anyone’s judgments or ideas or beliefs take that away from me.

 

While this is one of my monster examples, I do have many more, both big and small, as does most likely every single human being on this planet.  It’s part of the human experience, and can be a means to a bigger end in the learning process.  I cannot in any way say that I regret the course of actions that I took because I absolutely and sincerely do not.  Each second and step in my life has led me right to where I am today, and for every bit of that, I am grateful.  But *IF* I could go back and do things differently, that I would do.  Because that is Wisdom realized.  Not because I would want to change the goodness that is in my life now;  all of that would have happened anyway.  The difference is, with Wisdom realized, it would have occurred with more ease and grace.  I think this is the difference between will and faith, between holding steadfast to only the head or only the heart in pursuit of an end, rather than using both, accepting what is in front of you as the gift rather than the obstacle, and understanding that you have all within you to be there, be That, already and always.  Escalation of commitment is useful because we learn from our mistakes and failures are merely the stepping stones to success.  But learn (with self compassion) from these stepping stones is the key word here, for if we don’t, rather than climb up the staircase to success, we end up going around in circles.

 

 

 

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At this point the only people who haven’t seen this yet are probably those totally isolated from all civilization.  This video (by Jefferson Bethke) already has 9 1/2 million views in just 4 days (!!!).  While I do not agree with a number of his wording choices or interpretations in regards to spirituality or the Bible, I do think he’s getting pretty warm…and I DO agree with the points he makes of being spiritual one day a week and putting on a costume rather than living with integrity in striving to be mindful your Word in every moment. (For the record, I am not endorsing or pushing any kind of specific religion or spiritual path in this post. I do tend to have posts that have spiritual notes, but that is a result of my own self expression, as for me art and spirituality are one and the same.  I believe that an individual’s spiritual path (or seemingly choice of lack thereof), while can be shared, celebrated, and even expressed with others,  is still exceedingly personal to the nth degree.  I do not label myself with any religious title whatsoever, but rather strive daily(often in vain) to live in constant awareness of all inner and outer life.  I strive to abide by the creed that my practice and the integrity and purpose of how I live my life is my “religion.”  I am by no stretch of the imagination always successful in this daily endeavor, however I keep showing up nonetheless.  What else can I do?:)) Most of all, I just find his spoken word and the sharing of his personal journey of self discovery a beautiful work of art.

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(latest inspiration to breathe fire into my being, thanks mary oliver)

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles,
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations–
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determinded to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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