Whenever I need to call a service company that has an answering machine with a number of possibilities to choose from, I get very frustrated. When it is time to “choose now” I am usually still trying to figure out if number two is relevant to my service request. So number three and four have completely gone by without me noticing.
This results in me having to listen to the whole thing over again, before I can choose and get into the right queue to speak directly to a service agent. This everyday challenge got me thinking about decision making in a larger context. I decided to examine decision-making and put together some tips for you.
Our free will distinguishes us from the animals of the plain. But despite the fact that we spend our days choosing and rejecting, it can prove difficult to make decisions. We all face decisions that are so difficult that we might even convince our selves that we can simply skip the decision making altogether. But the truth is that by not making a decision, we are making a decision to be indecisive, and thus not standing in our power. Hoping it will resolve on its own.
By this I am not suggesting that all decisions should be made hastily. Neither am I suggesting that we should not secondguess out past decisions; no – quite the opposite. Many decisions need some mulling over and require us to consider some probable outcome possibilities before we do what needs to be done in order to make an informed decision. Whether that is to have conversations with those the decision is going to effect, get relevant information to base the decision on, write down the pros and the cons the decision is going to entail or something else that helps you reach a conclusion.
Decision Making and Leadership
When we are indecisive and hesitate to make decisions or when we don’t follow through on our decisions, we give away our power. When we accept responsibility of ourselves, we are able to make powerful decision-making and follow through on them.
Often times our decisions affect other peoples lives, but that doesn’t mean we should take responsibility of other adults and their lives. The same applies to situations where we are tempted to let others take responsibility of what is not theirs but ours to decide. Because by doing that, we refuse our self-responsibility. This shifting of responsibility can be very suttle, so we need to be mindful in order to escape the common pitfalls.
The end goal should always be to be fully responsible for oneself, and let others be responsible for themselves. That is what being a leader, truly means. The sooner we realize that all our decisions are solely our responsibility, we are able to see the bigger scheme of things and that is a huge step in our leadership development process.
Useful Decision-Making Tips
If you have a decision to make, I would like to give you a few decision-making tips that have proved very useful to me:
- Ask yourself questions relevant to the decision. The answers will surprise you.
- Get moving. Take a walk, go swimming or choose some other type of physical movement. Answers are bound to come to you.
- Look ahead and see you life in five years. Ask yourself how this decision will have affected your life and the lives of those around you.
- Write down your decision, put a date and sign. By doing that you are creating a contract with yourself, to stand by your decision and thus standing in your power.
Whenever I feel stuck and experience that I have to make a decision, I take a walk. I depart with a clear purpose in mind. I need an answer to my question on what my decision should be.
The thought process changes dramatically during the walk and the feeling of being stuck blows away. Usually I return with a clear decision. My doubt has been left by the roadside and the whole experience is really empowering.