The Price of Making Decisions Alone

Growing up, I loved reading Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes's remarkable powers of observation and deductive reasoning never failed to delight me. Given my history, I was intrigued to see how a 93-year-old Holmes, with his memory failing, would be portrayed in the new movie Mr. Holmes.

A central theme of the film is Holmes's dealing with the consequences of a decision he made after a tragedy occurred in one of his cases. Without consulting anyone, Holmes made a judgment that radically changed the course of his life and in turn, the lives of many other people.

Holmes, a man known for his analytic abilities, came to his life-altering conclusion influenced by a torrent of difficult emotions. It came from a narrow perspective that did not take into account the larger picture of his life and the positive impact he had on people. He felt justified to punish himself for a perceived mistake and therefore withheld his gifts from the world.

Another factor in Holmes's decision could have been his egoism. Since he was always the smartest person in the room, perhaps it never occurred to him to ask for help. He could have believed that his abilities were so great that he could not come to a poor decision.

What Holmes did is not unusual. For many of us, we can look back at our lives and recall an important decision we made alone. We felt certain in its correctness and were ready to live with its consequences, even if they were difficult.

For Holmes, his punishment lasted decades. It pained me to think, "...if only he had talked to someone and shared what he was feeling and thinking. Maybe he would have made a different decision. Perhaps by talking to a friend or someone he respected and trusted, a healthier more balanced decision, one that did not radically change his life, would have been made."

We all have gifts that the world needs. No one else can contribute to life as you can. We do a disservice to ourselves and to life when we take ourselves out of the game due to a perception that we have horribly screwed up. Giving ourselves the chance to have that perception challenged could make a big difference in the course of our lives.

Sometimes, it isn't possible to consult with someone, or circumstances are as such that we can't see a way to share intense or conflicting emotions. In the interests of living as full a life as you can, I encourage you to share your heart and mind with a trusted person when faced with a major decision. Talking it out can help open doors and reveal possibilities that you could not see on your own. It can give you a new lease on life and the energy to live with renewed hope.

I welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences related to decision making.