Establish the proper environment: The Zen master understands that its important to surround yourself with harmonious elements, as everything in your environment affects your thinking. On the eve of an important decision the Zen master takes care to ensure that each sense is protected from disturbing influences. He retreats to the Zendo and sits in quiet contemplation, preparing for his decision. Occasionally the Zen master will step into the meditation garden, where the artfully arranged ground cover is designed to remind him of the inner harmony of the universe. The only sounds that break the silence are those of the gently flowing stream, falling leaves, and a songbird.
The Bush master sits alone in the White House TV room. He tightly clutches the remote control as he switches back and forth between Fox news and ESPN. All the while, hes listening to his Ipod, programmed with patriotic country music. Every few minutes, his pager vibrates.
Discipline Your Mind: The Zen master prepares for a decision by letting his mind go blank, attempting to rid himself of preconceptions and pent-up anger. For an hour, he sits in the lotus position, focused on his breathing.
Assemble Decision Material: The Zen masters assistants collect relevant background readings. He carefully studies these, making notes in his meticulous handwriting. First, he reads all the material representing one point of view. When hes finished, he meditates and then writes out his thoughts. Then he reads all the material on the other point of view. Again, when hes finished he meditates on this perspective and then writes out his thoughts. Only when hes carefully considered all the alternatives, does the Zen master read the recommendations from his assistants.
Once the Bush master is warmed up, he goes for a three-mile jog or swims 80 laps in the White House pool. After he cools down, he gets a massage. During this interval, his assistants remind him of the pending decision.
The Bush master takes a shower. After dressing, he hurries to the oval office, aware that he has only a few minutes to spare before he leaves for a political fundraiser. In the center of his desk is a folder bearing a large yellow stickie, Must Decide Today. The Bush master picks up the folder, noting with annoyance that it is rather thick. He turns to the executive summary.
Make a Clear Decision: The Zen Master meets with his assistants and tells them of the decision he is inclined to make. Each of his closest associates knows that the Zen Master expects them to voice any disagreements or concerns they may have about his proposed course of action. They feel free to concur or disagree as the spirit moves them. The Zen Master listens attentively and finally, when everyone has spoken, announces his final decision. This may differ from what he initially stated. Regardless, he takes complete responsibility for the decision.
The Bush master asks himself, What would God do? and takes a minute to pray. If its not clear what God wants, the Bush master calls Karl Rove. Then the Bush master summons his assistants into the Oval Office and announces the decision. They unanimously agree that he made the right choice.
Study the Consequences: The Zen Master understands that making decisions is like playing baseball: Its not always possible to hit the ball with the bat and its not always the case that decisions work out for the best. The Zen Master and his assistants carefully study the results of the decision. If necessary, they take corrective action, even if this means admitting that the original decision was flawed.
The Bush Master views decisions as if they were a football kickoff: once you kick the ball, its gone, and you need to run off the field as fast as you can to avoid getting hurt. The Bush Master never studies the consequences of his decisions, as doing so would indicate that he might have made a mistake. Being decider-in-chief means never having to say youre sorry.