92°F
weather icon Clear

Think first, make better decisions

When I’m not moonlighting as the mayor, I try to earn a living as an attorney. And as much as I loathe billing clients, it’s obviously necessary in order to put food on my family’s table.

People hire me as much for my training, experience and analytical skills as for what I actually “do” for them. The same is true of other professionals like doctors and financial planners. We gather information, deposit it upstairs in our brains, spend considerable time synthesizing, organizing and processing it up there, think through relevant issues and problems, turn them over and over and over again in our minds, apply our knowledge, expertise and experience to them and eventually spit out a diagnosis, a prognosis and perhaps even a solution or two in the form of professional advise.

But imagine your reaction if you received a $1,500 bill from me that simply said, “Thought about your case today.” Instead of merely throwing darts at my picture or icy stares in my general direction, you’d be hurling actual projectiles at the real me. After all, if we have to pay for something, you and I much prefer paying for actions, results and tangible things that we can see and feel than for invisible ideas and impressions.

And yet, would you really want a doctor to operate on you if she hadn’t first observed and analyzed your symptoms, thought through test results, hypothesized about the source of your problems, ruled out other possible causes, drawn upon past experience and otherwise brought to bear on your case the sum total of her education, training and expertise? Of course not. That’s because 95 percent of most good solutions involves an awful lot of thinking.

And most of that thinking should usually occur before we act, at least in any definitively way. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that it’s generally not a good policy to operate first and diagnose later.

Thinking before we act or speak is almost always the best policy in our public forums as well. Even our first- and second-graders at Mitchell Elementary School know from their Seven Habits training made popular by Stephen R. Covey that we should “seek first to understand” and only “then to be understood.” I also like another aphorism that Covey and other prominent thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Makepeace Thackeray have repeated in various forms over the centuries. Its origin is unknown, but it’s often been characterized as an old Chinese proverb: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Regardless of its origin, it’s true. Our thoughts ultimately determine our destiny. And the eternal law of the harvest is always in full force and effect. So, both individually and collectively, we should first do everything in our power to make sure that we plant good thoughts and cultivate them carefully if we ever hope to reap positive results.

On the subject of good thinking, keeping an open mind is critical to our community’s success as well. When you and I keep an open mind, we’re willing to listen to different ideas and opinions, including those that at first blush aren’t consistent with our own. We’re also more willing to reserve judgment and wait to form an opinion until we have all the reasonably available information and facts in our possession.

In the long run, thinking first, analyzing problems conscientiously and doing it with an open mind will inevitably lead to better decisions and results for everyone. And that’s what we all want. So, before you speak or act next time, think about it. And listen to others. Then think about it some more.

We’ll all reap the benefits if you do.

Rod Woodbury is the mayor of Boulder City. He has been serving on the City Council since 2011 and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Political choices dictate nation’s economy

Since March 16, I’ve been at home on the computer sharing educational materials as much as possible with as many folks as possible on social media sites, sending them personal messages and calling them. I’ve done this because, believe it or not, I’ve seen education work wonders.

Science smashes coronavirus conspiracy theories

Baseball legend Yogi Berra famously quipped about a 1973 pennant race, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Berra’s oft-repeated observation couldn’t be more apt for the current public health crisis, as governors (Republican as well as Democrat) lead efforts to contain the nationwide devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Berra’s Mets did eventually come back to win the division title that year. The U.S., and the world, must take decisive, even unpopular steps, to ensure that the coronavirus doesn’t also make a huge comeback.

Who is that masked man?

The other day, my husband and I had to run out to the grocery store to pick up a few things. In these days of COVID-19, it was certainly a different experience than it had been before.

Virus was scam to get political control

After three years of historic economic growth, record unemployment and a proliferating middle-class lifestyle, the anti-Trump cadre, without missing a beat, migrated from their failed three-year impeachment circus and transformed a pandemic into a gigantic economic demolition derby.

Make your mom proud

Sunday is Mother’s Day. To all the moms (and dads who fill that role) out there, I wish you a happy day and offer gratitude for what you do.

Sense of normalcy slowly returns

We are beginning to look toward making a way back to our normal lives. More likely, we will find ways to a new normal. It does not appear it will be done quickly as the COVID-19 virus threat still exists.

Little love, luck help us through quarantine

I hope you are among the lucky ones who are quarantined at home with someone you love. I can’t imagine the feelings of loneliness that would come with being truly self-isolated.

News organizations need your help

The newspaper or news website you are reading is in trouble. Like many other businesses, the COVID-19 crisis has eliminated most of its revenue but not its expenses, delivering a body blow to a business model that was already under pressure. But it continues to publish, providing your community with timely, accurate information about the crisis.

Nothing campy about backyard excursion

Like most of you, I am missing time spent in the great outdoors.

‘Bizdemic’ numbers tell real story

As I write this commentary, the majority of businesses other than grocery and hardware stores, gas stations and convenience stores are shuttered. I realize that this pandemic is serious and will likely cause many to suffer the illness and many will die from it. However, I don’t believe it is necessary to shut down the entire U.S. economy.