I don’t know about you, but I certainly prefer making easy decisions as opposed to wrestling with really difficult decisions. My guess is that you agree with me. I mean, give us the easy button, right? However, I have met people who actually do like to be placed in the position of making really difficult decisions. And I say to them, “God bless you.”
The other day I was talking with a client who has also become a close friend. Our discussion was centered on a big decision that he needed to make. It was a decision that would have an impact on him and his family, him personally, and certainly on him professionally.
What had happened to him is what happens all too often to many of us, we become decidedly undecided, and then what happens is that we become decisively undecisive. We get so caught up in being undecided that we cannot make a decision. Stuck, frozen in time, and unable to focus on anything else. We seek information, we search the internet, we talk to friends, family, colleagues, coaches, and consultants. Sometimes the information is consistent, and yet other times, the guidance and recommendations could not be any farther apart.
It is decision-making atrophy. We are so caught up in making the “right” decision based on the input and feedback from others, and possibly even to be politically correct, that we have stopped thinking for ourselves. It is so much easier to let social media be the judge, or to allow Google to make an informed decision for us. Why should we be taxed with making such hard decisions when artificial intelligence can do it? Now, ask yourself, “Is he talking about artificial intelligence like the internet and technology?”
Well, I could be. But I am not.
I am talking about the artificial and made up intelligence of our sources of information and the input we receive from others, and especially from others who change their mind and basis of information on the very last thing that they were told or that they read. And that it is exactly why we need to start exercising our own decision-making muscles again.
When we want to build up our physical strength and endurance we do not send our neighbor to the gym. When we need to go to the doctor’s office we do not send our cousin to have the X-ray taken for us or have our brother go for the blood test. The answer is no. There are certain things that we have to do, that we are required to do, and that we get rewarded for doing.
Decision making is one of those things. Not just the easy ones that we prefer to make, but the difficult decisions that we agonize over as well. What I have learned when it comes to decision making is that a “less is more” approach is the best approach. Seeking wise counsel, having strong advisers, and receiving rock-solid data to support a difficult decision is absolutely encouraged. It is when we seek too much information, when we try and justify the easy way out because we know someone will give us an opinion that will let us off the hook, and when we spend countless hours and days searching the internet just to make sure we didn’t miss that opinion piece from 2005 that will help us make the “right” decision, that is when we become decisively undecisive.
Look, if you are like me and really prefer the easy decisions, but from time to time have to make a really tough call, do yourself a favor and limit the sources of information and people that will influence that decision. You will save time, energy, stress, and relationships, and in the end, I am sure most times you will make the right decision, and probably the decision that you were going to make even before you did your research and talked to your family and friends.
So how about you? How are your decision-making muscles these days? Are you relying more on others and becoming increasingly undecided? I would love to hear your strategy for making up your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we can avoid being decisively undecisive, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.
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