Recently, I’ve run into a number of companies, nonprofits, and churches who’s leaders have real trouble making good decisions (some have trouble making decisions at all). Good decisions matter, and here’s a few of the keys to making the kind of decisions that will take your career to the next level:
1. Find the best information available. Great decision makers are great learners. They know that making decisions is about balancing information and that often the person with the best information wins. What changes do you want to make in your life? Whatever the change, get the right information first. No intelligent decision can be made without the right information, so to make the right choices, do your homework first.
2. Find good decision makers and learn from them. I heard a story about a successful businessman who was frustrated that he was only making five hundred thousand dollars a year. By most standards he was rich, but he wanted to move to the next salary level. At a business conference he met a highly motivated real estate agent who was making more than one million dollars a year and asked the agent his secret. The real estate agent replied, “It’s about association. I decided I wanted access to million-dollar ideas, so I associate with million-dollar people.” Whatever your salary or career level, if you want to get to the next step, then begin to stretch. Find people at the level you want to reach and begin associating with them. There’s nothing snobbish about feeding a champion athlete expensive food, because coaches know that what goes into an athlete dictates how well he’ll perform. If you want to perform better in your family, in your company, in your relationships, or in your personal life, start feeding yourself from the riches of successful people.
3. Make good decisions every day. Start a habit of making strong decisions. Don’t begin ordering people around and become a jerk, but stop putting things off, procrastinating, or avoiding. Start making good decisions today. You don’t have to start out making world-changing decisions about the war on terrorism or world hunger; just start with small things—that pile of papers on your desk, for instance. Just as an athlete trains his muscles for a sporting event, your decision-making muscles need to be trained, and the key is starting slow. Nothing is too small or silly to begin with, because the small decisions start training you for the big ones.
4. Make tough decisions on a regular basis. As you grow in your decision-making skills, don’t avoid the big ones. Learn to face one difficult dilemma each day and make a decision on it. Making tough decisions is all about perspective. Work the decision-making muscle and expand your ability to handle the hardest decisions in life.
5. Begin to grow in the choices you make. Every time you make a choice—either wrong or right—learn from it. Start building a “decision databank” that will help you the next time you’re faced with a challenge and need to make a choice. Every choice has a consequence and we have to learn to live within those decisions. Many people refuse to make choices because of the potential consequences, but thank God for people who have the courage to see beyond potential failure and make the hard choices in life.
Real freedom is in making your own decisions, planning your own choices, dealing with the consequences, and determining your own destiny.
Learn more about changing your life from my book “Jolt! Get The Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing.” Any other suggestions for making good decisions?