Igniting a match stick

Have you ever wondered how much the small everyday choices that take less than a couple minutes or even seconds impact your success and happiness in life?

Many choices in life are made within a few moments. A majority of the time, however, our minds tend to be consumed with the big decisions. In reality, the only active choices we can execute are the tiny ones right in front of us.

Interestingly, most of the minute and routine choices are primarily influenced by our unconscious biases, our social conditioning and our cultural beliefs. Since these moment-by-moment choices — our real-time decisions — do matter, sometimes even more than the big decisions, shouldn’t we be paying more attention and learning how to make these more consciously and more effectively?

Judgment vs. Intellect

As an engineer who founded two technology startups, I was biased towards intellectual abilities and hired only those who had high intellect in my first company, Visual Symphony Multimedia. Over time, I realized that having great intellectual talent did not necessarily guarantee success. On too many occasions, protracted arguments took us nowhere; we wasted a lot of time and missed opportunities.

I distinctly remember a more experienced entrepreneur commenting on my team’s intellectual horsepower and comparing it to his team. He highlighted the need to have people skills to work well with others. As a young entrepreneur, this was foreign to me. Having studied at the Indian Institute of Technology and then worked at Carnegie Mellon University, I had been brainwashed to believe that intellect was everything. Boy, was I wrong.

In my second company MediaSite, an internet startup that preceded YouTube by eight years, I was determined to hire people with something more than merely a high IQ. I wasn’t clear what else to consider, but the term “emotional intelligence” was becoming popular in the late ’90s, and I started to look for some of those character traits, as well. In retrospect, I can look at every situation that ended in someone getting fired and attribute it to neither intellect nor emotional factors alone. But I still couldn’t put my finger on the missing piece.

Only after creating a new position and working as a Coach and Chief Operating Officer at a wealth management firm did I finally realize that the missing faculty was Judgment. This was around 2011, the year my first book Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness was published. It soon became clear that my quest would focus on learning why we do the things we do.

So, I left my job and after 3 1/2 years of devoting myself to building the Mindful Nation Foundation along with Congressman Tim Ryan — a non-profit dedicated to helping Americans lead less stressful and more fulfilling lives — my mission became clear. I needed to narrow my focus on this key area — growing people’s judgment skills — and help them raise their Judgment Quotient®, or JQ®.

Judgment Quotient in action

Your Judgment Quotient simply measures the alignment between your intentions and your actions. Since it’s extremely context sensitive, there cannot be a single score for JQ. For example, your JQ when it comes to work may be high, but when it comes to family it may be low.

In order to have the freedom to continue the work of the Mindful Nation Foundation, I made a choice not to take up a full-time job. Instead, I offered workshops and keynote talks to help folks learn how to make better choices in the moment, a critical skill that no one was addressing.

In order to test the efficacy of some of my ideas, I also chose to engage in consulting projects to guide business owners looking to promote the judgment skills of their teams and as they hired new members. So far, the results have been extremely encouraging.

Having delivered over 100 workshops to business owners and executives, almost 60% of them confirm that they could do better at hiring had they considered exploring judgment skills during the recruitment process.

Once you identify and label something, it becomes a lot easier to notice. Much like when you begin to like a particular car: you see them everywhere, even though they did not manufacture more of them. So, how do you assess someone’s Judgment skills? The easiest way to get a better feel for the quality of someone’s JQ is during the process of reference checking, which typically involves verifying if the resume is accurate. When it’s possible, that’s a good place to get an idea of someone’s judgment. Ask those who’ve worked with them before: Can you trust this person with decision making? Or do you have to make all the decisions for them? Can you leave them alone, or do they come to you all the time for help making decisions?

Reflecting on your own JQ

Due to the COVID-19 travel ban this past year, I was able to recover many days of my life by delivering my workshops and keynote addresses virtually. I also was able to use this time to work with a software developer to create several online reflection exercises, including a free 2-minute JQ®Assessment.

Taking this assessment is an effective starting point to monitor your behavior and reflect on your JQ. Also, because context colors your judgment, your JQ score is unique to a particular goal or aspiration. I encourage you to take the JQ®Assessment periodically to make sure your actions are aligned with your values, priorities, and goals.

Can your JQ be improved? Or is it something you have or you don’t? I invite you to uncover the answers by reading my future posts.

This article first appeared in https://medium.com/mindful-choices/in-the-heat-of-the-moment-why-real-time-decisions-matter-cb68761f8d03


  • Krishna Pendyala

    "If you help them experience it, they will fix it."

    ChoiceLadder Institute

    Krishna Pendyala is a noted author, systems entrepreneur, and a choice engineer who uses a playful approach and empowers people to make more mindful choices at work and in life. He devotes his energies towards building a mindful nation where inner awareness empowers people to make wiser choices. Author of Beyond the PIG & the APE: Realizing SUCCESS & true HAPPINESS, President of the Mindful Nation Foundation and founder of the ChoiceLadder Institute.