Everyone I know has agonized over a decision at some point in their life. The decision was something considered big, impactful and unable to be changed once made. These types of decisions can be crippling even for the most capable corporate executive.
When we’re faced with undesirable outcomes on either side of the equation, we lose even more sleep. Now, there is something really on the line and either way the forecast is still unknown. This is when we have the opportunity to have the courage to make the call.
When I’m in this situation I want to know I am making the right decision, yet the reality is it often comes down to my gut. I’m aware there have been times when I’ve struggled with making sure I knew which direction my gut was pointing.
I was recently working with a mentor who went through a multi-part framework for making tough decisions. As I listened to the framework it was clear that when you’re making what feels like an impossible decision there is no better indicator than your gut instinct. Here are the big takeaways from the session that will help you get to a place of knowing, no matter what the decision is.
Right Decision Using Personal Development for Leadership
1 Know the difference between BIG decisions and small decisions
When I’m anxious about something I check myself and ask whether or not the decision at hand warrants the level of anxiety I’m experiencing. Sometimes I find that it is warranted and that I have a decision worthy of deep contemplation.
Many times, I find that I’m lamenting over a decision that ultimately has very small consequences beyond a bruised ego. This wasted time and energy takes away energy from the truly tough decisions.
Small decisions are the ones that you can change after you’ve made them. Big decisions are the ones you can’t change once they are made. Save your energy for where it’s best served and learn how to make decisions quickly about things that don’t actually matter.
2 Filter the decision through your core values
One of the key reasons a decision will pester me until I pay attention is because it’s out of alignment with my core values. An area I’ve often run up against this in my own career is related to data privacy and consumer awareness. As a marketer I have access to a plethora of data I can mine to understand the buying behavior of millions of consumers.
Those consumers have no understanding how marketers stitch together their digital lives and use it to sell them things. Every day I have to choose whether or not to use this kind of data to forward my business strategy.
To do it requires rectifying the piece of me that feels like consumers are unaware of how their data is being mined and my executive duty to operate in the best interest of the business to generate new revenue.
It’s a tough call, but one that has to be made every day. When you’re making a decision, look to see if it’s really just bumping up against your core values and if it is, turn it down, no questions asked.
3 Minimize negative impact
After the decision is made will you say I wish I had done this? Or will you say I’m glad I did it? I’m a big believer in minimizing the fall out when tough decisions have to be made.
Whenever possible I try to implement the philosophy of if it’s not good for one, it’s not good for any. I believe we can operate business in a win-win-win working environment.
Where it gets challenging is when you are faced with a lay off or re-organization where some people’s cheese is about to get moved. Moving that cheese may ultimately be for the best, but the short and mid-term impact will be rocky.
When I feel like I’ve considered all the variables and I’ve minimized the negative impact I feel confidence that I’ve made the right decision.
4 Know Your Zone of Genius
Gay Hendricks termed the phrase Zone of Genius in his book The Big Leap to reference the parts of your skill set that are effortless and happen when you are in flow state.
As I’ve evaluated myself over the years, I’ve recognized that there are some things that are simply pure zone of genius for me. For example, writing self-reflective articles like this that are designed to help others comes easily for me.
However, mining over complex data sets makes my head want to explode. We all have special talents and it’s important to filter your decisions through them.
Is this opportunity FOR you? Or not? If it’s not in your zone of genius, I recommend passing, especially if it means sacrificing something that is.
5 Flip a Coin
At the end of the day, what it all comes down to is your gut. These steps are simply providing logic for making the decision we’ve already made.
So how can we cut through the chase? The mentor recommends flipping a coin. While seemingly tongue in cheek the strategy actually works. Here’s why. He recommends assigning heads or tails to each of the options of your decision.
A yes or no, if you will. Then flipping the coin. Once you see what side it’s on ask yourself, “was I relieved? Or did I want to flip again?” That will give you your answer.
If you wanted to flip again you are demonstrating that you will have regret if you make that choice. If you were relieved you’ve found your gut’s answer.
These simple strategies work effectively and efficiently for personal development for leadership to make sure we truly know we are making the right decision.
As we go through our day to day lives and the complexity of managing home and work it’s important to have simple strategies that allow us to cut through the chase and get to the heart of the matter.
For me, flipping the coin was the biggest breakthrough. I love something that simple and that effective. What’s the biggest decision on your plate? Run it through these filters and find your truth.