We all go about things in our own way, right? We’re all individuals expressing ourselves uniquely, and the way we act or react depends greatly on our individual personalities and internal processes and methods.

Most of the time, let’s say even the vast majority of the time, like 99% of the time, our own way works just fine for us. We get through life—how we interact with others, how we make decisions, how we respond to our social environments—just famously.

 However, something important must be acknowledged: If I work in my own way, that means everybody else works in their own way as well! And I simply can’t get through life without other people. Check out a previous blog, "Other People," for an in-depth discussion of this blatantly obvious fact.

 I’ve discussed interacting with others for benefit in previous blogs. Now I am turning to Deciding and Achieving. What THEE illustrates is that, in general, there are seven basic methods for deciding and achieving. Let’s take a look at the pragmatist, from the inside and out.

Inside the pragmatist 

 I’m just trying to make an impact, you know? 

Everybody expects results—I’ve got to bring money home, I’ve got to be productive at work, I’ve got to make things happen. I’ve got to produces a positive, measurable result. 

Well, the only way to do that is to actually do something. At work, I can’t sit around and wait for human resources to draft a report about the impact every decision I will make will have on the staff. I can’t wait around for the research department to analyze every possible outcome, talking about their “inputs” and “outputs” and all of their “facts.” Because all that amounts to in the end is waiting around. 

I’ve got to do what works. I’ve got to jump on a good opportunity when I see it. When the iron is hot, strike! 

Yes, sometimes things don’t work out, but that’s all part of the process. You’ve got to let a thousand flowers bloom. 

Who is this? 

If this sounds like you, you might be a pragmatist.

You’re riding the wave of the social forces that surround you, picking choice opportunities out of the chaos, anything to get you incrementally closer to your goals. You’re a powerhouse when others are wallowing in indecision and the big picture is unclear. You’re the one that makes things happen, and happen immediately.

 You’re quick on the uptake, ready for action in the clutch, and invaluable in a crisis.

You might make a great politician, whose job is to make quick decisions, convince others to go along with their ideas, and produce a result of some kind.

Outside of the pragmatist 

If you’re reading this and thinking: “No, this is certainly not me,” don’t fear.

Pragmatism is but one of the seven Decision Approaches.

If you aren’t a pragmatic type of decision-maker, well you handle decisions in some other way that you are convinced is generally best. And how you view this preoccupation with problems, facts and best solutions will be dependent on that.

 For example:

  • Empiricists might look at a pragmatist and think: “You haven’t got nearly enough information to be making any decisions.” 
  • An imaginist might look to a pragmatist and think: “You’re ignoring the elements of commitment, aspiration, creativity, and sensitivity, in terms of people, in decision making.” 
  • A rationalist might see a pragmatist and action and wonder: “How does this fellow operate in such a chaotic way and with so little long-term clarity?” 
It’s important to remember that we all have to use pragmatic thinking from time to time. Sometimes, something needs a decision and action immediately and there is no time for formal reports, all the facts, or a summit regarding all of the opposing viewpoints.

 That’s why, if this isn’t you, it’s still good to understand the pragmatist. Besides, you probably have to deal with a pragmatist every day—at work or school or in your family—and isn’t it better to understand them?

Check in next week for Empirical decision making.

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