The ABCDE's of Decision Making


Contextual Intelligence is a new term I discovered while reading this article from HBR (Harvard Business Review). My experience with contextual intelligence is one that has sprouted this acronym I came up with while diving deeper in meditation about decision-making and choices.






Here’s how the ABCDE’s were born...
On Saturday afternoon, after a morning chalk full of high energy classes at Ferris 360 and Equinox Yorkville, I was on a mellow high; a state of mind that was sharp and calm. I took the escalator down to the main floor of Whole Foods and went about grocery shopping, but had a frozen moment when I went to pick up the grocery basket.

I thought twice about spending my time, energy, and money at Whole Foods.

While everyone was busy ticking off checklists and cashing in and out, I was lost in a daydream.

I went through my mental checklist of groceries, I calibrated my time allotment for shopping, I took stock of my other errands, and produced an idea that would birth this blog post and inspire my teachings for the week.




Instead of taking the easy and convenient action of shopping at Whole Foods, I decided to shake things up and discover what else Toronto had to offer regarding organic health food shopping options.


First stop, I had the urge to go for authentic Kim Chi, my go-to for daily probiotics, so I checked out Korea Town’s PAT MARKET for all things Korean! Not only did I pick up a 3L tub of Kim Chi, but I also got some great tasting JapChae (cold sweet potato noodles), seaweed salad, and Gimbap (the Korean version of the Japanese Norimaki sushi rolls). I was pleasantly surprised to see just as many non-Korean’s in the supermarket as that showcases Toronto’s impressive cultural mosaic.

Second stop, I checked out Strictly Bulk on Bloor West, known for organic bulk foods without the high cost of packaging. You can smell the blend of coffee beans, spices, and soaps. Again, the place was filled with Toronto’s signature multiculturalism, and a knowledgeable staff. I loaded up on my nuts and seeds and snack foods, along with a few eco-friendly cleaning products.

My last stop was Fiesta Farms, a place that was highly recommended by friends from the west end. This place is wonderful, thoughtful, family-run, socially-responsible, environmentally aware, eco-friendly, locally supportive, community-driven, and organically authentic. I felt like a real cool food nerd walking up and down each aisle in slow motion, picking up every other product, admiring the label, reading the ingredient list from top to bottom. As a kid feels when he is in a toy store, I felt the same way as a holistic fitness professional. This was my wonderland!

Why am I recalling my boring grocery shopping adventure? Well, with nothing against Whole Foods, I thought I’d take that one moment of redirection with the grocery basket, and propel myself into a place I’ve never gone. Instead of making the thoughtless, time-saving, robotic, convenient decision of providing Whole Foods with my business, I chose to revel in my moment and make a memorable experience out of the afternoon.

I became aware of a similar shopping situation while at H&M, and remembered the documentary TRUE COST. What’s the true cost of every dollar you spend? How much money will satisfy a multi-million dollar Fortune 500 company? What are you supporting with each purchase you make? What effect does it have on manufacturing countries and communities? I love Whole Foods and shop there more frequently than any other grocery store, but that Saturday afternoon was one that made me think of the David Mitchell quote, “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” Each dollar I spend at Whole Foods could be a dollar spent to help strengthen the food community and local sustainable food system of my beloved home town.

My thoughts preceded my actions. My actions speak the words of this piece.  I am proud of this weekend’s grocery shop decision and wanted to share how it came to be. Here are the ABCDE's that brought life and context to my blue sky thoughts: 

AWARENESS - Exercise in the morning made my mind sharp and clear. Enough so that I could recall the True Cost documentary that opened my mind to social responsibility and sustainability.

BELIEFS - Who I am aligns with my beliefs and values. I believe in this city and I value the diversity and thoughtfulness it breeds. I believe the food I purchase must positively impact me nutritionally first and foremost, but also must positively impact our society and community as a whole.

CIRCUMSTANCE - My car, my freedom, my free time, my healthy food budget, and my time management all paved the path to this journey.

DESTINATION - Every journey must have a destination. This influences the pace, the intensity, and the type of activity. I knew before heading out of Whole Foods that I wanted to discover the west end. My goal was set.

ENVIRONMENT - Weather was beautiful. No rain or snow to divert me. No obstacles in the way. All signs were green.

Although simple and almost insignificant, it is in these moments that life chooses to teach its lessons. The next time I won’t necessarily check mark each of the ABCDE’s, but I will refer to them when something doesn’t feel right. Trusting in our instincts is one thing, but embracing CONTEXTUAL INTELLIGENCE is a skill worth spreading.  

What if people were more conscious of their decisions? How do you make your decisions? You may not naturally think so analytically about them, but what if you did? What if it only took an extra 2-minutes to change the course of your day, maybe your life? 
You never know if you never try...