The late Jack Welch, famous for taking GE from $28 billion to $170 billion, raising the company’s valuation by 4,000% under his leadership, said that one of the most important abilities of great leaders is what he calls “edge,” or the ability to make tough decisions.
He said, “Smart people can assess a situation from every angle – but smart people with edge know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without all the information.”
Hill devoted an entire chapter to “Decisiveness” in the perennial classic Think And Grow Rich as a characteristic of the wealthy.
He wrote, “Men who succeed reach decisions promptly and change them, if at all, very slowly. Men who fail, reach decisions, if at all, very slowly, and change them frequently, and quickly.”
Here it is summarized in a Tweet: You can’t commit if you’re still looking. Zig would call you a “wandering generality.” A ship sailing without a destination.
Take a look at where you are today in any aspect of your business, finances, or health, and what you see is the aggregate of the decisions you’ve made over time.
Show me a business that is not growing, not profitable, and stocked with a team of mediocre people and average customers, and I’ll show you a leader who lacks the ability to make good decisions.
Decisions about what goals you have, where your organization is going, and what you are going to focus your attention and energies on. Decisions about what customers you are going to target. Decisions about the vendors you will partner with. Decisions about who you’re going to hire, and how fast you’re going to grow. Decisions about how you will price your services, deliver them and scale them. Decisions about the standards that are non-negotiable.
ALL of these decisions add up – but most people do not have a process for making decisions and default to making NO decision, which IS a decision.
Here’s another Tweet for you: A decision postponed is a problem extended.
When you need to make an important decision, waiting doesn’t help you make a better decision – only better information will do that. There IS a price for inaction, and doing “nothing” is actually doing something.
If you decide to kick the proverbial can down the road, that can gets bigger. It collects other cans and expands. And it’s still there for you to deal with, only you’ve lost precious time, and time is one thing you cannot get back.
I see indecisiveness a lot in our sales department.
MSPs that come to us and have ZERO marketing systems in place, are not growing, are not profitable, are NOT happy with where they are, have been “at it” for YEARS, unable to get where they want to be and lack the knowledge about what to do.
We present them with a program that is 2 decades in development, specific to their situation, that’s been proven time and time again to work with over 1,000 solid, real, true case studies of success, and they “decide” to “think it over.” Or push it back for a few months. Or wait until they make “one more sale” to have the money. Or wait until ________, with the blank being anything they want to pick from a long list of “reasons why” waiting is the right thing.
They THINK they’re doing the right thing, but they end up in purgatory, going nowhere, still anxious, still sucking wind, and still frustrated as hell.
So, how do you make better decisions, confident that you’re doing the right thing?
First, you need to be mature enough to know you’ll never have “all the information” you need, and trying to get “all the information” is a waste of time and simply a form of procrastination. If you need ONE specific piece of information, or if you need a few questions answered, then go seek that information, but be CLEAR about what you’re seeking – don’t just sit in a warm bath of indecision.
Keep in mind you just can’t think of everything, and ALL decisions have good and bad outcomes that could happen. Looking for something that is “all good,” with no downsides, is foolish.
So, here’s a process for making a good decision, based on a formula given to me by my mentor, Dr. Nido Qubein.
You ask yourself these 4 questions when you’re thinking about making an important decision:
- What’s the WORST thing that can happen?
- What’s the BEST thing that could happen?
- What’s the most LIKELY thing to happen?
- Does taking action move me closer to an important goal or outcome I want, AND can I live with the worst-case scenario?
If the answers to that last pair of questions are yes and yes, then move ahead with the decision. Commit. There IS a price to inaction, and making a BAD decision is better than making no decision because it gets you moving and teaches you. If you find out you made a bad decision, you can course correct and try a different approach or go down a different path. As I often say, you can’t steer a parked car.
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