Decisions Leadership

What I’ve learned about tough decisions

When a tough decision needs to made, who do people look to make it?-They look for a leader. They look for someone to step up with courage and confidence to make the tough decision.

As leaders we’re faced with difficult decisions all the time. It’s something that we must embrace and do our best to handle. Many people never fully develop their leadership potential because they’re scared to make tough decisions. It’s not the decision that’s tough to make, it’s the consequences of the decision if it turns out to be wrong.

Spending nine years of my life working toward dreams of winning golf tournaments, earning a college scholarship (don’t start to think I’m smart because I haven’t finished), and wanting to play professionally I learned several things about making tough decisions.

You’re going to have to make them.

Even if you don’t make a decision that’s one too! What this meant was that I was the only one to make tough decisions when they came up. It was just me against the golf course.

There’s no one else to blame.

I never played golf on a professional level, which meant I never had a caddy (someone to carry by golf bag and clubs). The other people I was playing with were my direct competitors. These were the same guys that I was working hard to beat! Since I was out there on my own I had no one to blame when things went wrong. I believe it’s a big “no-no” when a leader starts to blame events and results on others when he was the initial person to make the decision. If I chose the wrong club, or mis-read the break of a putt I was the only one to blame. I love this passage from Paul “Bear” Bryant, “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it”

The rewards are high.

When I did make correct decisions I was rewarded for my effort. I didn’t win every time I made the correct decision, but correct decisions increased my chances of winning, and winning is always fun.

Preparation always pays off.

The more I practiced and the harder I worked before a golf tournament always made decisions much easier. As leaders if we work hard to prepare ourselves, when tough decisions come up we will have the ability to respond and make the correct decision.

Choose the best decision.

As I said earlier, leaders will have to make decisions, because if they don’t make a decision that’s making on too! I was often faced with situations where there was no “correct” or “right” decision while on the golf course. There were times when I was deep in the trees, and couldn’t reach the green with my shot, but I chose the best decision out of the four or five different choices I had. 

Go with your first instinct.

When sitting in the fairway looking at the green I learned to go with my first instinct when it came to deciding which club to use. This was a direct result of my hard work and preparation prior to the tournament. The harder I worked to prepare and get ready for the event, the better my instincts were while in a tournament. As leaders we will often be faced with difficult decisions where we will have to go with our gut instinct for making decisions.

You can only control you.

There were tournaments where I gave 100 percent of my best effort, got some lucky breaks, broke my personal best scoring record, and I still didn’t win the tournament. I learned very quickly that I couldn’t control how well other golfers played. In golf there was no defense. As leaders we have to embrace and respond to the fact that we will be put in difficult circumstances based on outside forces which we cannot control.  We must realize that we can only control the decisions and ways we respond to what’s given to us.

You have to make a lot of correct decisions.

Just because I made a good decision didn’t mean that I would win the golf tournament. I had to make a lot of great decisions. One great decision didn’t cause me to win and one terrible decision didn’t cause me to lose. I had to make a lot of both.

As leaders we have a great advantage because we often have teams of people, friends, and mentors that we can consult before we make those tough decisions.

I realize this view on making decisions is from a golf perspective, but it’s tried, true, and tested from nine years of competitive golf on both the local, state, and national level.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at