I believe making reasonably fast decisions are necessary for life, for business, and simple everyday things. So many times I see people struggle with a decision. Many times the decision is something so simple and easy, yet they don’t trust themselves, fear the unknown, fear change, or somehow just don’t want to pull the trigger.
I am the first to agree that making a decision can be important, life changing and one needs to think about the facts. It is true that we should not make a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. However, too many of us put off decisions, or simply don’t make them at all. First of all, sometimes we don’t have time to go get more fact. Second, many times we have all the information that we need, it is our emotions that are holding us back.
Decision making has a lot to do with self confidence, self esteem, faith in ourselves and others, and simply the ability to make a decision and let go. We’ve all struggled with it.
I recall a former boss of mine. We’d be in a meeting and we’d discuss something and he had all the facts. It would come time to make a decision. He wanted to think about it. I would push him to decide there in the meeting – or at least talk about his reservations there. He almost always wanted to ‘think about it’. Often weeks went by and no action. We’d meet again and he’d say ‘I’m still thinking about it.’ Typically he’d eventually decide not to do it, and I believe that under it all he was a fearful guy. He is a talented, smart person but his personality and focus was on the negative, what could go wrong, bad things, etc. He’d look at a situation and instantly tell you 5 ways it could go wrong – and actually get you really scared about it. Meanwhile it was a new opportunity and presented lots of good things. I’d often have to ‘shake it off’ and look at it my way. We missed so many opportunities waiting for his decision process. I always tried to help him and point it out in a nice way, suggest a ‘due date’ for the decision, etc. I believe he just was scared, under it all. I did feel for him.
Executives, parents, adults need to have faith in themselves and make a decision. It doesn’t mean that they can’t change their mind later if new information comes up. It also doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes or fail. But a quick firm decision seems to go with nature and the flow of the world. We don’t see a lion contemplating if she should chase the antelope or not, or if she should wait until the next group comes, or if she should pick this one or that. She sees the opportunity, quickly weighs the factors, and goes for it. In the heat of it all, she may have to change her target from one to another, but so be it.
“The ability to make a decision, act on that decision and keep to it is fundamental for a business person to be successful.” This was said by Andrew Carnegie, the great U.S. steel tycoon. In fact, he went further and said that any person that couldn’t make a decision in a timely manner when all the facts were evident was someone not to be trusted, since they wouldn’t have the strength of character to see through the commitments required by any decision.
When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. -Roy E. Disney
Here’s some thoughts from a website called www.actioncoach.com
Procrastination over decisions is fatal for a business owner as decisions come before actions and the right actions lead to the desired outcomes. Sometimes, though, the right decision isn’t all that obvious and how to get to that decision isn’t all that easy for some people. So it’s worth exploring a number of ways to help and below are a number of ways to approach decision making.
1. Basic Pros and Cons: This is the simplest method. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and on the right write down the reasons for doing something and on the left the reasons against. Sometimes just doing this adds clarity, especially if done with another person to brainstorm all the factors.
2. List outcomes from decision and rank importance: Draw a basic grid and down the left and write down the desired outcomes you’re looking to achieve from making a decision. Then rank them 1-5 on how much of an impact the decision is likely to have. This helps you see how much the decision will assist with your goals.
3. Comparison Matrix: Draw a grid. Across the top, write down the different decisions to make i.e. which product to make or which supplier to choose. On the left, list the different outcomes desired. Then against each write a score 1-5 against each column. Again this adds clarity to making choices between alternative decisions and it’s especially useful when there are trade-offs to be made. The use of this matrix method is very effective in marketing when looking at different products or markets to go to versus the companies list of core competencies.
The key is that decisions have to be made on a constant basis.
It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions. –Jim Rohn
The following is actually from the website www.sba.gov.
- Define, as specifically as possible, what the decision is that needs to be made. Is this really your decision or someone else’s? Do you really need to make a decision? (If you do not have at least two options, there is no decision to be made.) When does the decision need to be made? Why is this decision important to you?
- Brainstorm, and write down as many alternatives as you can think of. Be sure to use your resources (experienced friends and family, the Internet, etc.) to find out more about the implications of each option.
- Visualize the outcome of each alternative. Do you feel more satisfied with one outcome than with the others?
- Do a reality check. Cross off those alternatives that most likely will not occur.
- Once you have made your decision, get moving on it. Worrying or second-guessing yourself will only cause stress. You have done your very best. Remember, no decision is set in stone!
From the SBA website (above)
- A lot of times I want to just tell people, ‘Calm down, take a breath. Stay relaxed and listen to yourself for a moment. Listen to your head, your heart, and your gut. You know your decision, just go with it.” Many times we get caught in the emotions, outside noise, other people’s opinions, media, society, etc. We need to just go to the quiet place inside us for a moment and listen. http://www.onewebstrategy.com
You can also reference a short blog I recently wrote about “How to Make Decisions” where I discuss using the Linear Model and a simple rating system and basic matrix. It is very easy and useable for almost any decision – buying a car/home, planning a vacation, deciding what to do this weekend, etc. You can read it here… https://onewebstrategy.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/how-to-make-a-…t-any-decision/
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.