Take a moment and ponder something with me. Make a quick mental list of the three worst decisions you’ve made in your life. Once you have them in mind, ask yourself why they were so bad.
Did you decide on impulse? Did you rush in without facts? Did you let emotion rule? Did you get bad advice? What factors led to the messes and the mistakes?
These are important matters to ponder and here’s why: Leadership is largely about decision-making. To study how you make decisions and what your tendencies and temptations are is vital. The truth in short is that good leaders make good decisions, flawed leaders make flawed decisions.
Yet the truth is also that most leaders spend little time examining their decision-making process. They don’t review what they’ve done and thus learn from it. It means that they are likely to repeat life-deforming, career-destroying mistakes.
Let me make some suggestions. First, think about the destructive emotions that influenced your bad decisions. We all have them. We should know what they are and face them. I urge you to write them down and then ask yourself why these particular emotions were in play.
I’ll tell you mine. I have made bad decisions because I have a lifetime weariness with numbers and details. I have made bad decisions because certain personality types pushed me over the edge and moved me to react negatively. I have also made bad decisions because I wanted to belong to a group and so I ignored the better angels of my nature and leaned instead to my demons.
What about you?
You see, now that I know these tendencies, I can conquer them. I involve detail people in my larger decisions. I don’t let difficult personalities repel me from good decisions. I tame my need to belong in favor of good choices.
How are you going to conquer what deforms your decision-making?
Here’s a principle for you to make your own. The Guinness corporation was famous for how they made decisions. Their principle was “Consider long, act quickly.” I have found this extremely helpful.
I take time with my decisions. I involve others of different gifts and personality from me. I don’t let myself get weary with the process. I read and research and interview. I take my time. Then I act. In recent years, my decisions have been good—far better than those of my earlier years. Why? I get on top of my emotions and I follow the Guinness Rule—“Consider long, act quickly.”
So, here’s what I’ve asked you to do. Ponder your bad decisions. Examine why they were bad. Devise solutions. Involve others. And don’t mess up again, for heaven’s sake!
Take time with this. Your life and your leadership are the sum of your decisions. It’s worth whatever effort is required to make your process of decision-making the wisest it can be.