Can You Make the Tough Decisions?

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It’s okay to make a mistake. Successful people make lots of mistakes – that’s why they’re successful.

Being able to make a decision quickly and comfortably is one of the keys to great leadership and effective networking. Picture yourself at a networking business function, having a conversation with someone who you consider to be “well connected”. Spontaneously you are invited to attend a social sailing day, with only a limited number of people invited on the boat. If you are a confident decision maker you possibly asked a few key questions e.g. time of departure and expected return time, would it matter that you weren’t a yachtie and really ranked yourself as a beginner (its better to under promise and over deliver than vice versa). Based on those key points, you probably accepted or declined on the spot.

Or did you hesitate?

If decision making does not come easily to you, you asked a few questions and then had a major or minor stress attack trying to decide whether to go or not. In the end, you may have asked if you could get back to them in 24 hours. Too late, unfortunately, the boat was filled before the function ended.

Another missed opportunity for you. Who knows what may have happened on that boat or who you may have met.

When the need arises to make a quick decision always consider, what is the worst thing that can happen. Once this is identified, then ask yourself, can you cope with that? If you can, then go for it. If not, it may be best to decline.

In the yachting scenario, the worst thing that could have happened , may be that you had to reschedule an meeting, so you could attend and possibly make a fool of yourself on the boat. Big deal, you will never become good at networking (or sailing) or management if you are not prepared to make a few mistakes along the way.

Is fear your problem?

At times FEAR is the thing that stops us from making a decision. You may recall times when fear has frozen you in your tracks. Some of the FEARS or False Evidence Appearing Real that regularly occur for some people are:

  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of failing
  • Fear of looking or feeling stupid
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of losing friends
  • Fear of not being liked

These fears are usually totally unfounded.

Maybe you’re a worrier?

Worriers worry about things that may never happen. What a waste of energy! This is not to dismiss these fears, because at the time they are incredibly real. Any of the above fears can actually manifest into headaches, pain, stress or a multitude of physical ailments.

However, if we look at the real reason these symptoms appeared, it is sometimes started by an imagined fear, similar to those listed above. The more we stay in the moment and stop the endless chatter in our heads, the more clarity we have around decision making. With networking opportunities, not only act like the host rather than the guest, but also think like the host. If you asked people to a special event and they all declined without explaining, how would you feel?

Clear communication is always appreciated, even if at times it means you have to swallow your pride. With the sailing invitation above, what if you were actually brave enough to thank the host for their invitation and explain that you have never been sailing before and may feel you would let the team down. The host would rather your honesty than your silence.

Making the big decisions

With large decision making, a technique I have found to be useful is:

1. State the problem-or situation 
What is the obvious problem, or what are people implying the problem is

2. State the facts 
From a total outsiders point of view, what are the actual facts

3. State the real problem 
Based on the facts, is it necessary to restate the problem or situation (with the yachting invitation, was it basically the invitee had not been sailing previously and was afraid of making a fool of themselves)

4. List the options 
Both outrageous and mainstream. An outrageous option would have been that the person take a crash course in sailing before the appointed date with the key player and pretend they were a seasoned yachtie.

A mainstream option may have been that the invitee made a phone call the next day, just to clarify that they were not a competent sailor and did not want to hold the others back on the day and seek the okay on attending on that basis

5. Pick the best option 
Pick the option with the best outcome, based on the facts you have. Its okay to make a mistake. Based on the facts you had at that time the decision was made. Time will tell whether it was a right or wrong decision. If you did make a mistake- that’s okay. Things are rarely irreversible – from every mistake you will learn, how not to do it next time.

Often the problem we think we have to fix is not the real problem. A company recently spent a large amount of money replacing an air conditioning unit. It was identified that staff absenteeism was caused by the faulty air conditioner – so it was replaced. The absenteeism continued until the real problem was identified – the new supervisor’s different style of management was alienating the workforce. The supervisor had been promoted from within and had previously got along well with the staff. Digging deeper it was found ,that the supervisor was experiencing a serious health problem and did not want to take sick leave because it was a new job and he thought it would not look good to management. There were unlimited options available. However, the one that was chosen had definitely the best outcome.

A meeting for all employees and management was called. The supervisor bravely revealed his health situation and apologised for his unrealistic demands on the staff. Management agreed to the supervisor taking extending paid sick leave and an assurance that the supervisors job would be held for him. The staff unanimously agreed on a replacement supervisor (from their ranks) and agreed to give them 100% support. Absenteeism disappeared, productivity increased – everyone was happy.

Author, Sergio Bambaren tells us “Most of us are not prepared to overcome our failures, and because of this we are not able to fulfil our gifts. It is easy to stand for something that does not carry a risk.”

Networking is about risk. An about making mistakes, feeling stupid at times, constantly moving out of your comfort zone and making choices. May your decisions always be wise ones and your networking always lots of fun.

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