Decision-making can cause knots in our stomach; keep us awake in the middle of the night; or cause us to break out in a cold sweat when it comes to signing on the dotted line. However, it surely doesnít have to be this way. In this lesson we will delve into the decision making process, in an effort to make decision making more enjoyable.
Itís no secret that many leaders in the military, business, politics, sports or the medical profession thrive on making big decisions? Consider the football coach who must instantly decide whether to go for it on fourth and short, or punt in a critical situation with a couple minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Or consider a surgeon who must make a life or death decision regarding an unforeseen development in the middle of a surgery? Both of these individuals thrive on making these critical decisions often.
History contains many memorable decisions that have changed the lives and destiny of the entire world. Presidents of countries always seem to be faced with making critical choices that effect millions of citizens, yet many of us often have a difficult time deciding on which fast food restaurant to eat at during our lunch break.
I believe that decisiveness comes easier with extensive knowledge, confidence and practice. The more experience we have about the subject we must decide on, and confidence weíve gained through practice, tends to make the process of deciding a whole lot easier. The problem arises when there isnít enough time to gather all the facts and answers to our questions, because we are faced with a minutes or even seconds to decide. At these moments we must depend on our instincts and ďgutĒ feelings to make a decision. In most cases those ďgutĒ feelings are correct.
Remember, it is IMPOSSIBLE to remove the element of risk from life. No matter how much knowledge a person has, they are not all knowing. There will always be elements that he or she is unaware of. There will always be the possibility of the unexpected. So EVERY SINGLE decision is made with some element of risk. This unavoidable element of risk is what usually scares people. It seems easier to push the decision making on to someone else. Or better yet, it seems easier to just avoid making a decision. But doing so can carry just as much risk. If you push the decision on someone else, you run the chance of them making the wrong decision for you. If you avoid making a decision altogether, the world doesnít just stop for you; you run the risk of having your non-decision cause you and those you care about great harm.
Since you cannot avoid risk in this world, it means that sooner or later, you HAVE TO experience failures and disappointments from the decisions you make. So how shall we live if this is the setup? My suggestion to you is to make decisions and donít shy away from them. It will build your confidence to be decisive. The danger occurs when we second guess ourselves, get confused, and have to deal with conflicting emotions.
Substitute knowledge and confidence in the place of fear and procrastination. Take the energy you will waste on fear and devote it toward being more knowledgeable. Make it a practice never to procrastinate and wait to be pushed to the wall to make a decision. Practice the skill of decision-making often and look forward to decisions as a positive factor in your life that can be enjoyable. When you procrastinate, you create emotional baggage for yourself. Just make the best decision possible, using the best knowledge you can gather Ė and MAKE THAT DECISION! And always be prepared to deal with the results.
As a parent, employer, or manager, you should empower those around you to make their own decisions. You can only grow if those around you grow as well. The best decision makers are those that surround themselves with others who make their own decisions.
Teams never function well if the leader is indecisive. Members of a team lose respect for a leader very quickly if the leader is always flip-flopping. The whole team also suffers if any of the members are indecisive as well. The teamís momentum moves forward only when everyone can decide and then deal with the consequences.
Become a good decision maker by being knowledgeable and confident in your decisions. Practice deciding often. Take full responsibility for your decisions. Realize that you will succeed and you will fail. But no matter what the result, you will always move forward. We canít expect to make the right decision all the time, but making no decision is always the worst decision of all.