After some reflection and thought, here’s a few things I know about making decisions.
1. Never make a decision until you have dedicated a significant amount of thought to it.
Some people believe 24 hours is sufficient for thinking about decisions, others think three days is a bare minimum. My philosophy: take as much time as you need.
If you only need an hour to think about it over lunch by yourself, then that’s ok. If you need to think about it for two weeks while at a strategic planning retreat followed up with a vacation afterwards, that’s fine with me too.
Decisions that are made without thinking time should only be decisions that must be made instantly. Sometimes you will have to make decisions on the spot and that’s the only time you should make a decision without thinking it through first.
2. Decisions are better made with the wise counsel of others.
Often we need people to take an objective look at what we are facing a decision about. It’s best to seek out someone who is very skilled in the area that we need to make a decision in.
If you need to make a business decision, seek out the most knowledgeable business person you know. If you must make a financial decision, seek out the best financial planner or fiscal minded person you know. If you need to make a decision about an intimate relationship, find someone who has been married for a long time to coach you through it.
The only time to make a decision without counseling others is when you don’t know anyone more skilled in the area of the decision than you.
3. Leaders make decisions based on their long term priorities, not immediate feelings and emotions.
This is something that is affected by the amount of time that a leader takes to think about the decision before he makes it. If a leader makes a decision instantly, then he is going to make the decision based on his emotions and feelings at that specific time.
Have you ever said something harsh or cruel to someone in a heated argument or debate that you wish you never would have said, something that you know you never would have said if you were calm and thinking clearly collected? That’s what happens when leaders make decisions at present moments based on feelings and emotions.
They make decisions they never would make if they had been calm and thinking clearly. The key to making decisions based on priorities is to take time to reflect, sit back, and look at the decision while thinking clearly and calm.