Today’s post is about how to make better decisions and how to improve your decision making process.
Decision making can not be avoided
I discovered something a long time ago, from working with great decision makers and also studying people, who were self-confessed, poor decision makers.
I found that it’s impossible not to make a decision!
Even those people, who believe they are dodging decisions, are making decisions all the time.
For example, let us imagine that Barbara is a small business owner who is thinking of attending a one-off business conference, which takes place next month.
- If she decides to book herself a ticket, she has made a decision.
- If she decides not to go, she has made a decision.
- If she decides to ask the event planners for more information, she has made a decision.
- If she decides to think about it for a week or two before committing, she has made a decision.
- If she decides to think about it for so long that there are no places left, or the event has passed, she has also made a decision.
Decision making and commitment
People will often believe that they can avoid decision making, simply by not committing to a yes or no answer. The reality, is that their decision not to act, is also a decision.
So, the challenge in these cases is not about decision making, as a decision can’t be avoided. The challenge is a lack of commitment. The most successful people I have studied or worked with, tend to be committed decision makers.
Their process looks a lot like this:
- They make sure they understand exactly what the decision ahead of them is. It’s easy to make the wrong decision, simply because you misunderstood what the decision was.
- They then get the information they need, in order to make an informed decision. They talk to people whose opinions they respect and do as much research as necessary.
- They then allow the decision to percolate for as long as it needs to, but not too long. Otherwise, the decision may be taken out of their hands.
- They then commit to a decision.
Decision making and progress
It has often been said that it’s not what life throws at us, which determines our success – but what we decide to do with it. My mentor Jim Rohn put it beautifully when he said:
“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off the fence. You cannot make progress without making decisions.”
By proactively making committed decisions, we grab the rudder of our business and direct it deliberately in the right direction. This is how progress is made. It’s how we avoid straying off course or going backwards. By avoiding committed decisions, we are like a boat without a rudder. It’s hard to direct a boat without a rudder.
I’d also like to share something about decision making, which a very smart client of mine reminded me of earlier today. It’s something Zig Ziglar says and it goes like this:
If someone presses me to make a decision immediately, unless the decision is critical literally right now, I tell them, “If I have to decide now, the answer is no. After I have had a chance to catch my breath and review the facts, there’s the possibility it could be yes.” I then ask them “Do you want my decision now, or should we wait?”
That’s something worth thinking about!