Coaching for Options: SEVEN approaches to the “binary” election process

I’ve been careful to avoid discussions of politics unless absolutely necessary. Yesterday I talked to a friend who said “I don’t want to vote.” I can understand the desire to abstain: it’s like someone is offering us a potent drink, as if we’re being offered some hallucinogen, really, and they’re telling us it will go down smooth, but it makes us sick just looking at it. Aside from the Anabaptist theological stance against voting that my Mennonite friends take, which I respect, and believe is worth reading up on, abstention from voting is considered in the broader culture to be un-American, yet more and more Americans don’t do it. It makes me wonder: when push comes to shove, do we not want to be Americans anymore? Whether you think voting is in itself a right (which means you can abstain) or a responsibility (which means you should vote, although you still might not) it’s worth considering all the options, even the crazy ones.

When coaching people who have tough decisions to make, a coach’s job is to encourage them to generate options. Establishing a minimum of five is yeoman’s work, and helping someone get to ten is a good day at the office.

If you’re struggling to see beyond two options in a system often called “binary” I have a list for you. I’ve started by challenging myself to brainstorm for ten options. I’ve put them in alphabetical order so that you know I’ve reserved my opinion.

  1. Abstain, because it’s your right to vote or not vote.
  2. Anabaptist: because you’re “going Amish” and have decided not only will you no longer vote but will also no longer participate in any litigation, etc. (2B: Or some other version of taking the theological or complex philosophical road out).
  3. Clinton, because it’s your responsibility to vote.
  4. Flip a coin between the two major players, or another game of chance, because (4A) in your state the polls show it doesn’t matter, one of the candidates is a shoo-in, and/or because (4B) it’s your responsibility to vote but you can’t bring yourself to take the responsibility seriously.
  5. Johnson, or (5B) other third party candidate who happens to be on the ballot in your state, because it’s your responsibility to vote.
  6. Move to a different country and change your citizenship, because you don’t want to be an American anymore if this is what we’re coming to.
  7. Trump, because it’s your responsibility to vote.

Okay, I got to seven. I was going for ten and got stuck. Now that the options are listed, you get to be the judge. You don’t decide whether or not the options are legitimate until AFTER you’ve listed them, and that’s a key to generating options. Now that I’ve looked this list over, I will tell you there are some of them I find worthy of at least a little consideration and some I don’t like at all. Interestingly, of the options I really don’t like, two of them are the so called “binary” options. That’s how powerful — empowering — it is to brainstorm options.

Before generating seven options, I was stuck with two distasteful choices. Now I can make a decision. Abracadabra.


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The author lives in Goshen, Indiana with his wife and four children. He is self-employed as a leadership coach working with business executives, writers and other artists, and spiritual leaders. His clients enjoy business growth, increased vision and purpose, work/family lifestyle balance, and freedom from writer’s block.

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