When there’s a decision to be made, the natural response is to make it quickly. We want things to be as perfect as possible. We want to correct problems right away. The only problem is that a fast decision often ends up being the wrong decision.
At least it has been that way for me.
Of course there are times when a fast decision must be made. You don’t want to stand in front of a car speeding at you in the crosswalk. You’ll either go one way or the other quickly to get out of the way, right? You won’t just stand there and debate which way of escape has better long-term merits as you get thrown into the windshield of the vehicle.
In the business world, we must focus more on the long-term merits a decision may provide. Instead, and I count myself included in this, we take the emergency approach to decision-making because we settle for the short term benefits.
The Difference Between Confidence and Skill
The reason why we settle for the fast answer so often is because of our confidence. We’ve had success before and we know that we can have success again. The only problem is that these causes you and I to believe that we already know everything.
Fate has a funny way of proving that perspective wrong.
As we gain experience in what we do professionally, we gain confidence. We assume that this means we’re also gaining skills, but this isn’t necessarily the case. We also become afraid of three little words: I don’t know.
Strangely enough, the group of people who tend to make the best and most consistent decisions over time are those who are willing to admit that they don’t know something. That admission forces them into what I call “research mode” so strategic thinking can happen.
In other words, confidence helps with survival. Strategic thinking skills help create better long-term decisions.
Take Your Time and Don’t Be So Sure About an Outcome
When mistakes happen, it’s not because there was a lack of skill or experience. It’s because there was too much overconfidence. Sometimes it is better to slow down, assume that you’re not sure about the circumstances of a decision that needs to be made, and approach the situation as if it was the first time you’d ever encountered it.
What separates the good from the best is the ability to apply that mindset on a consistent basis. I know it’s far too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you know what is best. Maybe you do. But what happens if you do not? What risks will you face needlessly because a fast decision was made instead of a good one?
I’ve learned to slow down. To not treat every situation as if it were a life-threatening scenario. Even when my gut instinct is to go in one direction, I slow things down to openly and honestly examine the other solutions that might be in play. Sometimes I go with my gut. Sometimes I’ve discovered better solutions by going against my gut instincts.
In doing so, the short-term and long-term needs I have can be met.
How do you approach the decision-making process? I’d love to hear about how you slow down the process to ensure you’re taking the best possible solution out of every scenario.