Let’s Shoot TINA!

Blog Post Breakthrough Results, Transformational Leadership

The Case For This Crime

Really, this is not a call for homicide… If you have not heard about her, TINA stands for “There Is No Alternative.” In politics, in the economy, in business, we hear people with authority support decisions with this acronym. Moreover, when a decider comes to use this last-resort affirmation, it also sounds like courage and determination – referring to Margaret Thatcher who made this acronym popular.

Yet, by nature, TINA is a lie and a costly lie. There are always alternatives, and calling TINA is hiding the fact that one has made a choice to close the door to all other options. What it hides is that when people come down to take TINA as the closing word in decision-making, it is either an autocratic attempt to justify one’s point of view against any contrary approaches or a lack of intellectual effort.

Swap TINA with TAMA

TINA refers to the future as a fixed scenario that we are responding to. And when the future unfolds into the present, we are always proven wrong with the way things actually happen. The future is invariably different from what TINA was a response to. At any given moment in time, while looking towards the future with the appropriate intellectual effort, there are plenty of different scenarios to imagine. There are many alternatives, or TAMA.

Considering that the future does not already exist as a preexisting thing coming at us when the time comes, what we call the future and the way we behave about it at any given time resides in what we are going to call it. Said differently, the future is what we say it will be, within the boundaries of what we are ready to do to make it happen. The future is a declaration. We have a real power to create what the future will be for us and calling on TINA is a denial of this power.

Escaping the TINA Syndrome

You must recognize it as soon as you hear the temptation of TINA creeping in, either in your own experience when the circumstances occur as leaving you with only one way to move forward, or when you notice someone going that route. It may sound easier said than done, especially when people around you buy into the TINA syndrome, accomplices in this lack of effort and willingness to challenge the obvious.

TINA almost always feeds on explanations, excuses, habits, what-we’ve-done-in-the-past, experience, credibility. TAMA can also stem from the same root, taking each reason why to believe in TINA and challenging them one by one in the light of the commitment behind the decision to be made with TINA. Then to reintroduce some freedom of thinking, one can go with some creative questions, such as: what if Alternative X were possible? What would it take to do Alternative Y? How could we achieve what we are committed to in a completely new way? What would it really cost us to go with TINA rather than exploring X or Y?

What is at stake here is: are you up to the challenge of the freedom that comes with choosing? Making a choice between alternatives takes more courage than pretending that TINA chooses for us. As soon as you give in to TINA, you give up your ability to create, you enslave yourself to circumstances dictating your actions. What’s your call?

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