It doesn’t matter whether you are right or whether you are wrong. What matters is that you take a position, and move forward.
As a management consultant, I’ve been giving corporate executives this advice for almost thirty years. You would think they would be used to me saying it. But, they continue to be surprised every time I utter those words. It’s as though they have to reassure themselves that I actually mean what I say.
No matter how abstract the world has become, humans still think in dualities – good or evil, right or wrong, black or white. However, life at the everyday level is far more ambiguous than that. Usually we make decisions between good and good, average and average, maybe and maybe, etc. Life is more like choosing between Colgate and Crest toothpaste, than it is choosing between heaven and hell.
Because of this, success, especially in business, is based on making as many decisions as possible. Of all the activities one goes through, making decisions is the most critical in causing your business to move forward. The secret to building a successful business is the numbers of decisions you are willing to make about the processes of your business.
The easiest decisions one can make come in the form of yes/no questions.
If you made a habit of creating five yes/no questions about your business each day, and then answered them and acted on the answers you received, your business would move faster and arrive at its desired state quicker than competitors who pride themselves in caution and contemplation.
My experience is that business is slowed because executives are afraid of making the wrong decision. Just the opposite is true. One should understand that about 50 % of one’s decisions will be wrong in the normal course of a business cycle. Wrong you shouldn’t mind. Wrong immediately tells you what is right. Nothing like doing the wrong thing to quickly realize what the right thing is. Or, more accurately, what the better thing is. With a quick course correction, you can pivot and start moving in a better direction.
Are Decisions Tied To Some Grand Truth?
The best decisions are stand alone decisions, unconnected to an overarching truth. Good decisions are intuitive decisions, uninfluenced by larger truths which are supposed to serve as guiding truths.
Good decisions are influenced by spending a lifetime making decisions, good, bad, or otherwise. One becomes good at decision making by making decisions.
What Would Jesus Do?
When I was fairly young I was told to use the standard of Jesus in making my decisions. “What would Jesus do?”
You never want to guess what someone else would do were he or she in your position. It’s not fair to that person, and definitely not fair to the business for which you are responsible. Business has a right to know – good, bad or otherwise – that you, not someone else masked as you, is making the decisions.
We are often told to seek counsel from someone wiser before we make a big decision.
Who really is wise in this life? Everyone has a point of view.
Isn’t it true that we usually look for counsel from someone who will reinforce our own point of view? That being the case, it’s better not to waste time seeking wisdom. What’s good is making a decision and getting on with the business at hand.
Owning Your Decision
You should want to own your decisions. In corporate America, I witness executives blaming their bad decisions on others quite frequently.
In a recent article I read (“What Psychopaths Teach Us About How To Succeed,” in Scientific American) one thing the psychopath and the successful business person have in common is a lack of empathy toward others. In business that quality manifests itself most clearly when an executive will sacrifice others to protect his own position for having made a poor decision.
Blaming others for the mistakes you make does not need much commentary – it’s the behavior workers fear most in their colleagues.
Success Will Follow
In business, as well as others activities, take a position, make a decision, move forward, and adjust if the results of the decision so dictate.
Take full responsibility for your decisions, and never blame others if your decisions didn’t prove good enough at the time.
Follow these simple ideas and you’ll evolve into a competent decision maker. Success will follow.