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How do you make decisions? Here’s 5 ways to improve

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Brandon Buck

How do you make decisions? How do you determine when to say yes and when to say no? It is essential that you have a clear answer to these questions. Each of us makes an average of 35,000 choices a day, which causes decision fatigue and is why we tend to make our worst decisions at the end of the day.

First tip, make your biggest decisions in the morning. Second, find ways to make fewer decisions throughout the day (wear the same type of clothing each day, go to a gym with a prescribed workout or meal prep for the week).

These actions will help with energy, but they will not help you effectively make sound decisions when they really matter. Having a system to consistently make solid decisions is a skill that separates elite leaders from everyone else.  Unfortunately, many of us have no system or filter when making decisions. Often, we use the “Why Not?” method.

How many of us have decided to marry/break up with someone, quit/take a job, or move across the country because “Why Not?” We envision green grass on the other side and allow our emotions to guide our actions. Usually, these decisions crash and burn, but every so often, we get lucky and these decisions seem to work out great. Getting lucky can encourage us to continue making reckless decisions, and as we get older and begin leading businesses and our families, we continue a destructive style of decision-making.

If you are constantly changing policies and taking on new initiatives, you will become busy instead of productive, and your team/family feels the burn. If you consistently hire the wrong type of people, it costs your organization thousands of dollars and so much wasted energy. When you react with fear to the outside noise and violate core principles, you destroy trust and credibility. Or if you believe that you alone know the answers, you become the bottleneck holding back your organization.

In your youth, you can excuse this haphazard style of decision making, but if you want to become elite and learn to make decisions that set you up for success, you should consider taking these five steps.

1. Accept that there is risk in every decision.

Making a great decision does not always mean you will have a great result. I coached many baseball games where we made every right decision and still lost the game. Conversely, there were games where we made every wrong decision but got lucky and still won.

Having a consistent and effective decision-making strategy sets you up for success, but there is still an element of chance that everything may not work out how you planned. If you are aware of this ahead of time, you can envision both best- and worst-case scenarios. When you can live with the worst-case scenario, then the risk is worth taking. If you cannot live with that outcome, you should not make that bet.

2. Know your why — What is your goal? 

If you cannot answer this question, then you are not ready to make a decision. If your motives are only for selfish gain, then it is also not a good idea to move forward. Knowing your purpose for making a decision and ensuring you want what is best for your company, relationships and others is the best place to start.

For instance, The Ritz-Carlton desires to become the global leader in customer experience. So, every decision its leadership team makes brings it one step closer to achieving that vision. If it hires someone, acquires a new company or makes any other decision, it is done because it will support the organization in becoming the global leader in customer experience and help to achieve its selfless goal.

3. Know the impact you want to make. 

The beautiful thing about difficult decisions is that they give you a chance to define your character. When under pressure, if you can make decisions that reinforce your values, you will become a leader worth following! For example, what happens to your motivation and energy when you see your company do the right thing and care for its people, regardless of cost or the energy required? On the other hand, what happens to your motivation and energy when you see your company behave immorally or with selfish intent to make a few extra bucks?

It is easy to be moral and happy when times are good, but your identity is forged during challenges and uncertain times!

4.  Seek Wisdom.   

Without wise counsel, plans fail, but with many advisors, they succeed. No one person has the answers to solve every problem, and trying to do so hinders the adaptability of your company and destroys support.  When seeking guidance from your team, you open your company up to infinite possibilities. You are able to envision the best- and worst-case scenarios, attack your biases and prejudices and create buy-in from your most influential leaders.

Buy-in allows your company to own the solution and create momentum. As new information emerges, your company will be able to quickly pivot and adapt, instead of casting blame, and this speed and collaboration greatly increase your chances of success!

5. Swing the bat! 

As a coach, I had players who would work their tails off and take thousands of swings a week to best prepare for each game. Then when game time came and they had the opportunity to showcase their efforts, they would not swing the bat. They were afraid of failing or looking silly, and this fear kept them from taking action. I see the same fearful antics in businesses. Leaders have done the work; they have the buy-in and still decide not to proceed. Why? Because they do not want to fail or look silly. I believe most of us would agree that laughing at our failures is much easier to stomach than dealing with the regrets of not even trying.

The element of chance is what makes decision making so exciting, and if you have taken steps 1 to 4, then you have ensured you will not make destructive decisions. You might not always get the results that you hoped for, but you will not cause the downfall of your company! So, swing the bat!

In summary, you will never be able to completely predict when the market will dip, what the election will cause or how your decisions will positively or negatively impact your company; however, if you fail to act or if you react with a “Why Not” demeanor, you are setting yourself and your business up for failure. So today, as you are facing one of your 35,000 choices, understand your risk, know your why, reinforce who you are, seek guidance from those you trust, and then swing and swing hard!! Because without a committed swing, there is no chance to hit a home run!

Be a Champion Today!

Brandon Buck is a business coach in the Treasure Valley. He runs the coaching business Infinite Strengths.

About Brandon Buck