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That’s less than an optimal choice

June 14, 2017


That was a comment my adult son made as we were playing Mancala.  We had played when he was in grade school.  Now he had made his own board and we were playing again.  When he was little, I would teach him strategy and show him all the options.  It wasn’t necessarily to win at all costs for sometimes we would help others in the game so we all won.

He had gone through the rules again of Mancala and helped me out so that I won several games.  Then he let me play on my own and I seemed to forget what I had just been taught.  As a result, I lost the game.  The next time when I would be making move that would not be helpful to me, he would say “That’s less than an optimal choice.”  He was giving me a clue and a chance to change what I was doing for a better play.

Sometimes we feel like we are out on a limb.  We can feel good about being there or feel like our future is very fragile.  Kevin had come up to help cut up the 40 foot Mulberry tree that had fallen in the wind.  That is what he is sitting on in the photo.  It was a good decision to get help and get to see him.  It was after all the work was done that we were playing games.  It was a good job done for both getting the tree cut and having fun.

After playing the mancala game, I kept thinking about that line “Less than an optimal choice”.  He was trying to get me to make a better choice that I was making.  He was trying to help me remember strategy just as I had been teaching him so long ago.  I thought about that phrase and how things might be easier for us in life if there was someone was on the sidelines to say to us “That’s less than an optimal choice.”  We make decisions in life and sometimes don’t really think if it is the best choice or what the long term consequences are.   If we would stop before we said something or before we did something and ask “Is this really an optimal choice for me at this time and in the future?”  Would this make a difference for us?  I think it might.

When I made the optimal choices in the mancala game I didn’t necessarily win but I gave myself the best chance to win rather than if I made “less than optimal choices”.  I have thought about that phrase as I was playing other games – Disney Emoji Blitz for one.  Sometimes in my haste I did make less than optimal choices.  The “stopping” and “thinking” and “looking at near and far consequences” may in itself be what makes better choices.  The questions we ask ourselves may be different and may actually be irrelevant to the outcome.

What about your life?  Are there cases where “less than optimal choices” were ok or damaging?  Would that question have helped you or would help you get to your goal better and faster and cleaner than if you didn’t ask that question? “Less than optimal choice” isn’t about winning but choosing a strategy that will work for you right now and in this place and point to a good place in the future.  It is a good question to ask.  It is a good question to think about.  It helps reframing our choices and our decisions in a positive light that makes sense.

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