Making Decisions: The Rock, Paper, Scissors Way

September 8, 2006  

Back in July I was a keynote speaker at the Creative Problem Solving Institute. While there, I met Russ Schoen, a fellow creative-type who shared with me a simple, yet powerful technique for making decisions. I am sure that most of you are familiar with the childhood game Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS). Although I have typically use d this as a means of determining which of two people must complete an undesirable chore, Russ adapted this “decision making” tool to help individuals deal with more significant “life decisions ” . If you are unfamiliar with this game, you can find the rules here.

Here’s how you use it to make decisions that are meaningful to you.:

Step 1: Identify a decision you have been struggling with and boil it down into two distinct options. For example, perhaps you are struggling with how you should proceed in your current relationship. Your two options may be (option 1) continue to date your boyfriend or (option 2) end the relationship

Step 2: Next, find a friend to play RPS. At the conclusion of the game, should YOU win, choose option 1. Should YOUR FRIEND win, choose option 2. For discussion sake, let’s say you win. In our example, the decision would be to continue the relationship.

Step 3: Now, sit with that decision, as though it were a done deal, for 10 minutes. See how you feel. Are you relieved? Do you find yourself saying, “That’s what I really wanted?” Or do you find yourself secretly wishing that the other option were selected? Were you really looking for an excuse to end the relationship? Whatever your gut is telling you during those 10 minutes of sitting with the decision, MAYBE that is the decision you should make.

Step 4: Make a decision. Use whatever method that makes the most sense to you. The RPS approach is not right for every decision. Regardless, it may help nudge you in a particular direction if you are paralyzed by indecisiveness and give you insights into deeper feelings.

The second secret in Goal-Free Living is “Trust That You Are Never Lost.” No matter what decision you make, it is the right decision, if you truly commit to it and never look back. However we often question our choices or avoid making them for fear of choosing incorrectly. For the more “risky” decisions, many opt for the more painful method of straddled the fence, suspending a decision and remaining immobile. The RPS method gives you a fun and simple way of listening to your inner voice getting you off the fence and back into the game of life.

As I like to say, “Although all paths are equal, some paths are more equal than others.” Many of us often find ourselves on paths that bring us success in certain areas of our life. But this success may keep us from recognizing and finding greater opportunities in other areas. Always be open to the possibility of an ‘even more right path.’ Remember that when something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Learn to ask yourself forward-thinking questions and trust your inner voice; it can provide a wealth of insight for moving forward in a powerful way.

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3 Responses to “Making Decisions: The Rock, Paper, Scissors Way”

  1. Russ Schoen » Blog Archive » Jugglezine an RPS on October 6th, 2006 4:34 pm

    [...] The second find is a write-up on a tool that I presented at this years Creative Problem Solving Institute based on the age old game, Rock, Paper, Scissors. Deceptively simple but powerful as a tool. See what author Steven Shapiro had to say about it here! [...]

  2. Escape Adulthood » Rock, Paper, Scissors and Decisions on October 25th, 2006 10:40 pm

    [...] Stephen Shapiro of GoalFree.com shares a technique he learned from a "creative-type" named Russ Schoen: Step 1: Identify a decision you have been struggling with and boil it down into two distinct options. For example, perhaps you are struggling with how you should proceed in your current relationship. Your two options may be (option 1) continue to date your boyfriend or (option 2) end the relationship [...]

  3. Rock Paper Scissors Expansion Set at Bunch Family on May 22nd, 2013 3:13 pm

    [...] World Championships. RPS has become so weirdly professionalized it’s being used in business applications and stock [...]