Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Applying Good Judgment to Everyday Decisions

Written by: on April 16, 2024

Every day there are decisions that require the application of wisdom, or good judgment. Do I say yes or no to this speaking engagement? What 2 or 3 things are most important for me to accomplish today? What personal rules guide me away from impulses? Ultimately, there are so many decisions that we have to make each day, but most of us could use some help to get clarity.

Shane Parrish’s Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results guides the reader to take time to apply reasoning to decision-making and avoid being backed into a corner. Parrish has gathered an organized 5-part system to help people apply mechanisms to make better decisions by what he calls “proper positioning”. [1]

This allows us to turn choices we are presented with every day into better decisions. How? Through the exercise of sound judgment. Parrish claims, “Improving your judgment, it turns out, is less about accumulating tools to enhance your rationality and more about implementing safeguards that make the desired path the path of least resistance”. [2] Although this is the central theme in the book, I would like to pull out a concept that stood out to me, proper positioning.

For me, Parrish’s proper positioning woven into his mechanics of decision-making speaks to self-coaching.  Positioning oneself properly allows a person “to master [their] circumstances rather than be mastered by them.” [3] He describes this moment as one of “pause” and “taking a step back.” [4] Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky call this ‘Getting on the balcony’, where the most difficult thing to notice in a situation is yourself, and specifically “that part of yourself that others would see if they were looking down from the balcony“ [5] In other words, we must apply what Heifetz and Linsky call “contemplation in action” to solve the right problems. [6] 

In coaching, self-location in the midst of a problem is built into the flow of the “GROW” model, developed by Sir. John Whitmore in 1992. Through addressing internal obstacles, or seeing goals and reality from a wider lens (like on a balcony), one gets more clarity about the situation. [7] Tom Camacho develops this self-location as a spiritual discipline in coaching by pausing to think of our God-given “sweet spot” for flourishing. [8] We are not designed to do everything.

Parrish guides us to move past the internal enemies of clear thinking in Part 1 (which include emotional, ego, social, and inertia defaults) [9] in order to build internal strengths of self-location in Part 2. These include self-accountability, self-knowledge, self-control, and self-confidence. [10] I think it is an important aspect of sound judgment to include what is going on within us, to give us an advantage in weighing decisions that we need to make. On this point, there is a similarity to how Daniel Kahneman, one of Parrish’s heroes, tries to guide us from “System 1 to system 2 thinking” which requires slowing down, and paying attention to our auto-pilot responses. [11] Similarly, David Rock’s “ARIA” model helps unlocking impasses in the mind, moving us from awareness to reflection to insight to action. [12]

For me, sober self-judgment is crucial for decision-making, self-coaching, and leading with integrity. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3) As much as I think the lessons of clear decision-making will be tailored towards business success, there is much to be applied here to making decisions that allow our lives to have worth on a holistic level.



[1] Shane Parrish, Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results. (Penguin Canada, 2023), Kindle edition, xv.

[2] Parrish, Clear Thinking, 246.

[3] Parrish, Clear Thinking, xv.

[4] Parrish, Clear Thinking, 40.

[5] Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading, (Harvard Business Review Press, 2002), Kindle edition, 54.

[6] Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line, 51.

[7] “The GROW Model”, (Accessed April 16, 2024), https://www.performanceconsultants.com/grow-model. GROW is an acronym that stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Will.

[8] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching, (London: IVP, 2019), 74. 

[9] Parrish, Clear Thinking, Part 1.

[10] Parrish, Clear Thinking, Part 2.

[11] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow. (Doubleday Canada, 2011), Chapter 1. See Parish, Clear Thinking, ix where Kahneman is listed as a hero.

[12] David Rock, Your Brain at Work, Revised and Updated: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, (HarperCollins, 2020), Kindle edition, 81.


About the Author


Joel Zantingh

Joel Zantingh serves as the Canadian Coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance's Peace and Reconciliation Network, and as Director of Engagement with Lausanne Movement Canada. He has served in local and national roles within the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, and led their global mission arm. He has experience teaching in formal and informal settings with Bible college students and leaders from various cultures and generations. Joel and Christie are parents to adult children, as well as grandparents. They reside in Guelph, Ont., situated on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and home to many past, present and future First Nations peoples, including the Anishinnabe and Hodinöhsö:ni'.

5 responses to “Applying Good Judgment to Everyday Decisions”

  1. Elysse Burns says:

    Hi Joel, I appreciated how you emphasized a holistic approach to decision-making. I was also intrigued by Parrish’s ideas concerning proper positioning. This definitely requires self-awareness, or, as you said, “what is going on within us.” What keeps you well-positioned in the more fast-paced, intense moments of life? What helps you recalibrate if you are defaulting?

    • Great question, Elysse. Parrish’s systems are designed to be implemented when we’re at our best, in order to access them when we’re at our worst. (Parrish, 246) This sounds like the ‘modus operandi’ that Eve Poole was after with her “templating” idea as well. If we can establish patterns, there is a better chance to holding to them in the intense moments. This does feel prescriptive to me, as opposed to something I’ve achieved.

  2. Adam Cheney says:

    Your last paragraph reminds me of Simon Walker’s book. You mention “sober-self judgement”. I imagine this is coming from a person who is leading an undefended life. What are your thoughts?

  3. Interesting tie-in, Adam. I see a connection with sober-self-judgment and Walker’s call for a willingness to lay down one’s gifting for the sake of lifting up others’ abilities. This particularly helps in addressing the first two ego types which Walker unpacks for us: the Shaping Ego of Over-confidence and the Defining Ego of Drivenness.

    In a more general sense, thought, awareness of our own ego will, as Parrish argues, be a crucial part of understanding our internal enemies. As we learn to get outside of ourselves in these crucial moments of decision-making, we can do so with greater sound judgment.

    What additionally do you see in the Walker connection?

  4. mm Shela Sullivan says:

    Hi Joel,

    I read the concept about, ‘Getting on the Balcony’ by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky.

    How does “proper positioning” in decision-making aligns with the idea of “getting on the balcony,” impacts your area of expertise – (adaptive leadership model)?

Leave a Reply