Why is it that at the time we make a decision we believe it is the best, right answer or choice. Then days, weeks or months later, we regret the decision we made. We say to ourselves, “What was I thinking? However, based on the information I had at the time, I felt I made the best choice.” We will never be perfect at making decisions but we definitely need to take each bad decision or poor choice, learn from it, and commit to making better decisions in the future.
Decision-making skill is key for productivity and growth. Your decisions take you on different paths depending upon the decisions you choose not to make as well as the actual decisions you make. Do not underestimate that even the smallest decision could change your life forever. [Read Andy Stanley’s book, The Principle of the Path for additional information on how to get from where you are to where you want to be.]
Decisions are made daily, often without even realizing it. Some decisions are habit forming. You make the decision once and then repeat it again and again until you no longer hear yourself think or deliberate about it. An example is choosing to have a pastry at morning break daily. Your “decision” will affect your health, even your future, but you don’t even think about it any longer. 9:00 a.m. and you go get your pastry!
When making a decision you may consider, “What would my leader do?” Having the knowledge of what your leader would do in certain situations will allow you to make a more educated decision. This, in turn, will free up your leader’s time. The more you do this kind of thinking the more empowered you become and the stronger the connection is with your leader and the organization’s need for you – a true cognitive being – as their business partner.
In order to make a decision on anything, you must first understand the objectives and the situation surrounding the issue. Whether you are making a decision that affects your manager’s travel itinerary or involves purchasing a software package, you need to consider the objectives and purpose intended. You must set aside your own bias and needs to see the big picture. Many people are poor decision-makers because they only consider “what’s in it for me?” and they look no further. That is very short-term thinking and people around you will begin to assess that you are only in it for your own selfish and self-serving motives. That may get you a few plums, but that will not get you the prize!
There will come a time in your decision-making journey of learning where you will have to remove the training wheels. You will have to make decisions and play them out, taking responsibility for them and being confident that you will be accountable for whatever happens. This doesn’t mean you need to “know everything” beforehand; it means you will take responsibility, shepherd them, and adjust as necessary along the way. Also, make sure you watch to observe the results, so you can learn from the results and do even better next time.