Have you ever wondered why decision making is so hard?
It’s because we cloud our head with logic, and therefore making a decision becomes more convoluted than it needs to be.
Consider your personal life. You may need to decide where you’re going for dinner tonight. Let’s say you’re going to dinner with a group of people. What is the first thing we ask each other when deciding?
Usually it’s “what do you feel like eating today?”
Suppose I say, I feel like Greek food. Now, so many logical factors go into that decision, including, does everyone going to dinner like Greek food? Where are the Greek food restaurants nearby, do they have good reviews, and is it convenient for everyone attending to get there? What is the price range and is it affordable for everyone? Does it meet everyone’s allergy or diet restrictions?
The beginning of that decision begins with a gut feel – what I feel like eating today. The following items become the logic that confirms or denies that this is a good choice. But the interesting part is that same logic actually confuses the decision. The gut feel now gets crowded with all sorts or doubts – am I making the right choice? Does everyone like the choice I’m making? What if everyone hates dinner and now they don’t trust me anymore?
I know that feels like an extremely, but let’s be honest, that’s exactly where our thoughts go!
And what’s happened here is the logic has lead us down a rabbit hole of fear. I know it doesn’t seem as much, but once we start humming and hawing over decisions and taking in every fact or detail, we are trying to ensure it’s the right decision (thus squashing our gut instinct) and leading ourselves down a path of self-doubt and fear. And the only way out of fear is to get validation – which is why we find ourselves desperately trying to find people who agree with our decision. We may validate this behavior by telling ourselves, the more people that agree with me, the better the decision. Or we may also help ourselves feel better when we think – well if it’s the wrong decision, at least others agreed with the decision, making us feel secure that we weren’t the only ones who thought this way.
Our blame culture and fear of failure makes decision-making so consequential, that we stop listening to our intuition, and then find ourselves running around in circles trying to make decisions we can actually make in an instant.
So how do we go about making clear, concise decisions? And further, how do we live with the consequences of whether that decision was the right or wrong one?
You have to remember that decisions are yours to make.
Let’s put this into the context of your workplace. Say you have a decision to make. At the workplace, we don’t really feel like a decision is just ours to make. Especially if you’re in a leadership role, we need to ensure everyone on our team feels part of the decision, that we are taking a democratic approach. Further, we have a boss, and ulitmately a Board to answer to. It is never truly our decision, because we have to consider all the consequences to our actions, and how it may affect our career or future with the organization.
However, this is leading to a fear response. All those consequences of making the wrong decision are what lead us into fight or flight mode – leading us to start using our heads, versus our gut instinct, to make the decision. We have also learned that gut instinct seems to equal emotional reaction – which is not true. Our human cells are meant to feel vibrations, and it’s these vibrations that give us the sense to do the right or wrong thing, for us. We are all living a unique journey, so the decisions we make – even if they affect a larger circle or organization, are ours to make, because they are the right decision for us, and our circumstances at that time. As long as you’re operating from intuition, you will make the appropriate decision for you that feels good and is best for your team because it will be in tune with everyone’s needs who are affected by the decision.
Your gut instinct is easy to reach, if you let yourself reach it.
Think back to my example about the Greek food restaurant. If I operated on gut instinct, the decision would have been easy – we will go for Greek food. But what make it hard is all the extra information, questions and doubts to make it a logical decision. What I ended up doing was trying to explain my decision in a rational way.
This is where we lose the gut instinct that is the right choice for us, and would lead us to a decision quickly. We want to make the decision rational, and intuitive choices are not always rational or easy to explain. In an organization, that is difficult to back up. Imagine making a decision and when people ask you why, you say “I don’t know, it just felt right.” That wouldn’t go over well!
So then, let the decision sit with your peers or team for a bit, without offering rational reasoning right away. Ask them their thoughts about the decision. If it meets the needs of the team – which it will if you’re operating with intuition, they will start making the business case for you!
So the lesson here? Don’t jump quickly to defend your decision. State it as is, let it sit with others and ask them their thoughts. Really listen to those who agree with your decision – that is exactly the rationality you need for your decision.
Going with your gut instinct may not be the easy or simple way.
Here is where you need to see that just because you’re going with your gut, doesn’t mean you won’t have fear around executing the decision.
This means that what feels right may not be the popular decision, and it may also not be the easy thing to do. You will still feel your heart thumping and adrenaline pumping – but you will feel a lightness in your decision and excitement to move forward. The path to executing the decision also may not seem clear, but that will come as you follow your gut and bring your team and peers along with you.
This is especially true when leaders are faced with what to do when they have a poor performer on their team. Terminating the poor performer is not the easy way, and all too often, leaders suppress their gut feel to cut ties sooner rather than later because they get caught up in logic – did I do enough to support the employee? What will the team think? How will the person handle the termination? But all these questions and “logic” are fear disguised as decision making. And therefore this scenario often turns into one where the performance issue drags on for years, nothing is being done about it, and everyone on the team is frustrated.
The important point here is that the decision-making process should not feel heavy, or burdensome. This is why we are creating unnecessary stress for ourselves in our lives and our businesses/organizations! There is an overload of information to consider, so much so that we have forgotten to tune into ourselves. Our body is a natural homing device – we are meant to reason and make decisions and this is part of our DNA as human beings. You must start to trust that you can make decisions quickly and effectively – and you will see the stress melt away.
I’m sure you’re now wondering, what if the decision I make is wrong? Then go back and reflect what you could learn from the situatio in the future. Why do you think you made a decision that didn’t work out the way you had thought? What did you learn from it? What would you do next time? This only makes your decision-making abilities stronger because you’re applying a growth mindset.
I must say that this is not an easy skill to develop without having a personal coach who will give you the safe space to talk it out. The most supportive thing about a coach is that they are non-judgemental, which means you don’t need to feel any fear or uncertainty around being vulnerable and honest. We get stuck in our own heads and we make things bigger than they are because our imagination can take a fear to places we would not necessarily go in reality. Coaches gently redirect you back to your purpose and your intuition. As well, the coach’s ability to reflect and challenge help to reinforce that you have the key to the answers within you the whole time – you just need to know how to access that key.
I am certain you want to learn more about this topic and how to make decision making easier for yourself – or else you wouldn’t have read this far right? Then take the next step and click the book now button, and we can have a chat on how I can help you get in touch with your authentic leadership and decision-making style and abilities.
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