I have been a student of John Maxwell‘s leadership materials for a number of years now. One of the most useful lessons I learned from him is the thought process behind making good decisions. In this post, my goal is to share with you 10 questions that will sharpen your decision-making skills and help to guide you through the difficult moments of making courageous decisions.
When faced with a situation that requires you to make a decision, addressing the questions below in context will guarantee you a greater chance of making the best possible decision. You may not have all the facts, as usually is the case, but you will have considered enough of the data or facts as well as options to allow you to make a good decision. Just remember, you have to make a decision. You can’t stay on the fence or let analysis paralysis and the fear of the unknown stop you.
Below are the questions:
1. What are my options?
Having options helps you see what is not so obvious to others and gives you a greater possibility for a creative solution.
2. Is this mutually beneficial or helping another person?
Most people usually think of themselves first. However, when leading others you have a responsibility to make decisions that will benefit the organization as a whole – not just any individual, including you. Thinking about the mutual benefits of the decision will help you put the relationships to be potentially affected in perspective. It also shows that you value others whether you are a leader or someone making a decision of a personal nature.
3. What is the risk?
Walter Wriston says, “All life is the management of risk, not its elimination.” As long as you live, you will always have risks. So, evaluate the risks and proceed with the following thoughts:
– If you can take the worst, take the risk
– Know when enough is enough (no one really gets everything that they want)
4. Is it timely?
Make the decision at a time when it matters and will have the most impact. Practice the ‘peak-to-peak’ principle: Make your most important decisions at the height of your journey (when you’re in the right frame of mind), not at its lowest.
5. Do I have staying power?
Can you see it through or are you going to give up when things get rough? Many times success is all about hanging on one second, minute or hour longer.
6. What are the ramifications?
What are the consequences of the decision? Remember: we are free to decide and act, but we are not free from the consequences of our decisions and actions.
7. Have I asked for advice?
Have you considered other perspectives in coming up with the decision? Ask someone who will take your question or situation seriously, have expertise in the area and who will take the time to think through your question or situation.
8. Am I afraid to pull the trigger?
Beware of analysis paralysis as a way to cope with the fear of making the decision. A Yale University professor Lyman Beecher once remarked, “Some people, if they saw a sign, this way to heaven, and another sign, this way to a discussion on heaven, would take the discussion.” Some people like to wear out a decision by just talking about it. If you have done your homework and addressed all of the questions listed in this post, you’re in pretty good shape.
9. Am I making a convenient decision or a right one?
Many of us make decisions that are convenient rather than right. The main reason is that we want to be liked. Be bold and stand for what you believe in. Don’t decide one particular way because it seems easy and requires the least effort.
10. Have I validated the decision (in Prayer or Meditation)?
Have you pondered your decision? Are you knowingly violating your principles? Watch out for decisions that heighten desires of pride and greed. They are the sparks of the flame of destruction.
- How to Make High-Stake Decision (Harvard Business Review Blog)
- Big Think: Lessons from Sherlock Holmes Pt.I: Paying Attention to What Isn’t There (anisekirkpatrick.wordpress.com)
- Leadership Lessons from Washington (anamcgary.wordpress.com)