Thinking on the Margin


Decision tactics
to Beat Back Black and White Thinking and decision anxiety
so you can move forward

 

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another of The Black & White topic articles
from the Challenges Inventory™ Series

Balancing our Books by Thinking on the Margin

Most frequently associated with economic theory, “thinking on the margin” is also a handy concept that can help break the back of black and white thinking for those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders.

It’s an interesting theory of how we make decisions that relates to increasing personal productivity, avoiding an increase of the time we spend on task. It is worth taking the time to understand.

So let’s check it out!

Costs and benefits

Most of us have probably been exposed to the concept of performing a cost/benefit analyses to help us determine whether something is worth doing.

That technique can be simply described as one where we tally up the costs and downsides to an endeavor and compare them to a tally of the benefits and upsides that might be derived if we went forward with something we have been considering.

That’s not exactly what “thinking on the margin” advocates.  Once some basic data has been gathered, this second concept asks us to compare the cost and benefit of any additional action.

It means to think about your next step forward, not ALL possible steps forward.

Lemonade Economics:

Let’s pretend you are an unusually economically savvy kid operating a lemonade stand at the end of an especially HOT summer day.

You’ve done the math and determined that, based on the traffic in your neighborhood and how many cups you expect to sell, you need to get no less than 25 cents each to cover the cost of cups, ice, lemons and sugar – and pay yourself enough for your time to make it worth doing at all.

So you make your sign:
Ice Cold Home Made Delicious Lemonade,
only a quarter a cup!

But once you’ve recouped your costs, the equation changes.  Everything from that point on is profit, right?  So when you are offered a measly dime from the kid next door, you have a different decision to make.

  • Based on the traffic today, how much longer are you likely to have to tend your stand to sell the rest of your lemonade at full price?
  • How much longer before your ice melts?
  • How eager are you to sell it all and get into the air conditioning?
  • Even, how much do you like the neighbor-kid with the dime?

The optimum benefit for you would be where the marginal benefit (what you receive as a result of your decision) equals the marginal cost — which, in this case, is settling for less than what you’d hoped you would receive for every cup of lemonade.

Were you this young entrepreneur, economists who advocate “thinking on the margin” would advise you to accept less than 25 cents a cup exactly when the marginal benefit of selling an additional cup of lemonade at your original cost equaled the point where staying out in the sun much longer was no longer worth it to you — regardless of what the average benefit from your work had been to that point.

They say that, to work smart, we always need to work at the margin.
I say, it’s a good concept to keep in mind for some decisions.

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Breaking the back of Black and White Thinking


Three Tiny Things

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another of The Black & White topic articles from
The Challenges Inventory™ Series

click image for source article

In last week’s article [What GOOD is Black and White Thinking?], I introduced the idea of maintaining your own version of my Three Tiny Things Gratitude Journal™

The Three Tiny Things™ process encourages us to pare down the scope of what we explore when we look for things for which we can be grateful.

This concept focuses on a slightly different objective than other gratitude suggestions you may have heard: this idea is going to take on the task of breaking the back of black and white thinking (and lack of ACTIVATION).

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

In Moving from Black or White to GREY I went on to say:

  • Until addressed and overcome, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.

What I want – for me, for you, for EVERYONE – is to be willing to change the experience of life by transforming our black and white thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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What GOOD is Black and White Thinking?


If Black & White Thinking Never Works
How come so many people DO it?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Image from Kozzi.com

I have received some version of one of the two questions above more than a few times recently.

Since I’m now guiding my writing by the number of blog comments or questions a topic generates, I’m thinking it’s time to turn my attention back to Black and White Thinking.

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

In Moving from Black or White to GREY I went on to say, “It’s like a VIRUS: it infects, proliferates, and spreads to others.”

  • Until addressed and overcome, I asserted, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.
  • By the end of the Black and White Thinking Series, what I want for you is to be in a place where you are ready to change your life by transforming your thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

But does it EVER work?

Black and white thinking? Sure, it works sometimes.  I’m sure you’ve heard about “the exception that proves the rule.” 

Here is the short version of my answer to the implied question of
WHEN it works:

Although there are better ways to get the job done, it can work for you when you are mired in a decision quandary and absolutely MUST move forward.

  • It reduces rumination as a result of “choice overload” in a manner that unlocks brain-freeze.
  • It lowers the expectation that you will be “perfectly satisfied” with whatever choice you make, ultimately leaving you happier than you might have been otherwise – either way.
  • Parenting small children aside, it usually works best when the individual making the choice decides to employ it – not as well when others force a black and white decision upon them. (Ask any parent about how well their teens react to either/or enforcements: they can sulk for days!)
  • It is helpful when making decisions during bona-fide crises situations, where choices are reduced dramatically to begin with (the reason that many of us can say that we are “good in a crisis”)

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Moving from Black or White to GREY


Moving toward Balance:
How Much of a Challenge IS Getting to Grey?

unbalancedScales

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
One of The Black & White topic articles from
The Challenges Inventory™ Series

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

It’s like a VIRUS: it infects, proliferates, and spreads to others.

  • Until addressed and overcome, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • The good news is that turn-around is not only possible, with some concentrated attention to what’s going on, turn-around is inevitable.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.

By the end of this segment in the Black and White Thinking Series, what I want for you is to be in a place where you are ready to take the first step toward CHANGING what’s going on now by transforming your thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

Since awareness is always the first step on the road to change, let’s take a closer look, considering what well might have been a huge contributor to the development of what’s going on now.

No One is Immune

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ABOUT Activation


Activation — Inertia’s Handmaiden

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the ADD Basics Series


Activation struggles
are a common occurrence in the ADD/EFD/TBI
(Alphabet City) population.

What’s going on when we wait until the last minute to begin something we’ve known about for months?

What is it about the last minute rush that busts a desperate case of  “I just can’t make myself” w-i-d-e open, uncovering a secret activator that we couldn’t, for the life of us, locate the day before?

Closely related both to motivation deficit and under-arousal, insufficient activation  is usually misidentified, mislabeled, and totally misunderstood.

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ABOUT Distractions


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn
red on mouseover.

NOTE: If you have not read The Dynamics of Attending, the article below will have greater impact if you do that first.
———————————————————————————————————————————– 

Monkey Minds — The Dilemma of Distractability

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Intentional Attending Series – all rights reserved

A cartoon monkey climbing a tree trunk, attention elsewhere - obviously distracted

All distractions are interruptions, but
all interruptions are NOT distractions.

Distinction: disruption vs disturbance

An interruption is a momentary disturbance in the projected flow of a physical or mental activity that creates a break in continuity for a relatively brief interval.

Inherent in the definition is the assumption that concentration will return to the interrupted activity, if appropriate, implying that the control of one’s focus is volitional – a factor of the “will-power” of the individual who has been interrupted.

distraction, on the other hand, is a disruption of an individual’s concentrated attention upon a chosen object of focus. The distinction between the two otherwise similar events is that a distraction is intrusive: it prevents effective operation of the first and third of the three Dynamics of Attending:

  • focusing on the intended object
    and 
  • sustaining the focus

As long as the second dynamic – shifting focus at will – operates efficiently, “one quick interruption” remains so.  Most people can get back on track effectively as long as the “distracting” event is not pervasive or repetitive.

Ay, there’s the rub!

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ABOUT Black and White Thinking


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

The Challenge of Gray —

from Black and White to Balance

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
The FIRST of The Black & White articles from
The Challenges Inventory™ Series
(updated content March 20, 2013)

Black and white yin-yang symbol

  • A or F
  • Perfect or worthless
  • All or nothing
  • Good or bad
  • White or black
  • Always or Never!

Perfectionism and Black & White Thinking can turn a bright, shiny day into a thunderstorm!

One of the Nine Challenges (from my Challenges Inventory™), Black and White Thinking is an area that will be explored in one of the eBooks in my upcoming eBook Series.

ADDers (and those involved with them) seem to fall into the black and white thinking trap more than most – especially where the functioning of the ADDer is concerned.

That’s a shame, too, because the damage inflicted by black and white thinking seems to stop ADDers dead in their tracks more quickly than than those with the so-called “neurotypical” brain-style.

Maybe it is because we have heard it levied against us so often in our lives.

  • Why can’t you ever be on time?
  • You always interrupt me!
  • You are the messiest person I have ever known!

Utter NONSENSE!

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