I'm not the right one to talk about quick decisions. I am often notoriously slow with my decisions. But this very malady of mine has caused me to do some deep research into the cause of slow decision making and mental paralysis. I must issue an advisory though: I have only used one subject for my research, but I have studied him very deeply and for a long time! The strange thing is that as long and complex as my research has been, the result is astonishingly simple. Having reached my conclusions, I have validated them with many of the leaders I coach and consult to.
Here's the surprising result: The reason people like me agonize over decisions that others might find easy, is that we try to be right all the time. We try to be sure that we are right before we make our decisions. Right
means that the outcomes are right, that they are as we intend them or desire them to be. And herein lies the problem: We have little control over the outcomes of our decisions. Once we make our choices there are myriad forces and influences that impact the outcome of these choices. Some forces will support our intention, some will oppose it. We cannot know for sure that any choice will be right
nor can we control its outcome to "make" it right. We cannot take credit for great results, we can only take credit for making good decisions that contributed to those results. In the same way we cannot carry the blame for disappointing results unless we made bad choices which contributed to the disappointing results. We are responsible for how good
our choices are, not how right
they turn out to be.
What is the difference between a good decision and a right decision? You'll see the difference as we understand the first step in making a quick, good decision:
The first step in making a quick, good decision is: Detach yourself from the outcomes of your choices. You cannot control them.
I said a quick good decision
. You can
make a good
decision, it is just a right
decision that you cannot make. The difference between a right decision
and a good decision
is that a right decision
means you know the outcome will be right, and this is not possible. You can never know for sure that the outcome of your decision will be right. A good decision
simply means that your choice satisfies four tests:
- Based on the information at your disposal, the choice is a considered and balanced one with the potential to achieve your desired outcome.
- Your intention is for the higher or greater good.
- Your choice aligns with your personal value-drivers.
- Your choice supports the purpose for which you believe you were put in the world.
So the second step to a quick good decision, is test your choice agains these four factors. If you have not articulated your personal value-drivers and the purpose of your life, you might want to work through the sections in Lead By Greatness
or other books on the topic that guide you through these processes.
The third step is to monitor the trajectory of your choice as things unfold and be quick to make a new decision if the direction of your first one is not satisfactory to you. The new decision may be a reversal of the former, a modification, an addition or just a change in attitude.
So, I coach myself: Give up on trying to make right
decisions. All you are expected to do is make good
- Detach from outcome
- Check your facts, your intention and test against your values and purpose
- Be ready to make new decisions if things aren't working out...
...and act with speed.