How I Approach the Toughest Decisions
Our choices reflect and determine who we are.
But the point is, in just a few short weeks on the job, I had already realized that because every tough decision came down to a probability, then certainty was an impossibility — which could leave me encumbered by the sense that I could never get it quite right. So rather than let myself get paralyzed in the quest for a perfect solution, or succumb to the temptation to just go with my gut every time, I created a sound decision-making process — one where I really listened to the experts, followed the facts, considered my goals and weighed all of that against my principles. Then, no matter how things turned out, I would at least know I had done my level best with the information in front of me.
It’s hard to pick one thing to excerpt here — the entire thing is well worth the read. It’s legitimately just a good blog post, it just happens to be from a former President of the United States!
His high-level point — that you need to have a decision-making framework — sounds obvious but it’s really not in the moment of actual decision making. And it’s why some people are really, really bad at making decisions. Every company leader should take away something from this, but so should every person, period — even if your stakes are lower than say, a worldwide financial meltdown, deploying troops to Afghanistan, or taking out Osama bin Laden.
He also makes a seemingly obvious yet insightful point about the importance of breaks to help with the decision-making process. Perhaps ideally not with cigarettes — though kudos to him for not shying away from that — but something routine to break up the day, especially these days where we’re all on Zoom seemingly 24/7.
Alright fine, one more excerpt:
You also want to create space to think. Remember that dinner and haircut break I took during that marathon economic session? That mattered, too. That was part of making the decision. Even in situations where you have to act relatively quickly, as was frequently the case during the financial crisis, it helps to build in time to let your thoughts marinate.