How do you make decisions?
Whether running a business or our day-to-day lives, the average adult makes up to 35,000 decisions. Many decisions probably don't even feel like decisions. I mean, when was the last time you considered any of the following things to be a "decision"?
What to wear today
What to eat for breakfast
What route to take to work
These things aren't difficult decisions; they just kind of happen.
Other decisions are far more impactful to you and those in your circle. You may even need to decide if you're the person who should be making the decision presented to you. As a leader, one wrong decision could impact everyone in your company.
There was a point in my career when I made so many decisions during the workday that I didn't want to have to decide anything when I got home. I later found out it's called "Decision Fatigue."
I didn't want to decide what to watch on TV.
I didn't want to decide what to eat for dinner.
I didn't want to decide what time to go to bed.
Over time, I worked on developing how I made decisions, and its impact was considerable! The first thing I learned was the "Risk/Reversibility Matrix."
If something is not very risky and easily reversible, it should be as simple as deciding what socks to wear. Conversely, suppose something carries a great deal of risk and isn't easy to reverse. In that case, it's a decision you either need to have a high level of authority or should likely consult others before making it, potentially both.
Once I better understood the prioritizing of decisions making, it was time to dig deeper. I wanted to know where my best decisions came from, where my worst decisions came from, and whether they were situational.
Most people know that we make decisions using some combination of three things:
Your mind (logical/intellectual)
Your heart (emotional)
Your guy (instinctual)
In a recent LinkedIn survey* about the subject, 66% of people agreed they use "All of the Above" when deciding. Gut & Brain came in nearly tied at 14%, with only 6% saying they use their heart exclusively to make decisions.
I believe the 66% are on to something! It's advisable to use some combination of the three.
Many people who commented on the survey said they use all three, but it's highly situational. Some decisions were only made using one of the three but never consistently the same one.
As a leader, you should try to see things from multiple angles. To do this, when there is a decision to make, we should ask ourselves what is the logical thing to do (brain), what is the emotional thing to do (heart), and what feels right (gut/instinct).
I look at it like this:
When considering the logical decision, you often think of opposites; right/wrong, good/bad, or black/white. If it's thinking in black and white, perhaps this is a good outline for our decision...
When considering an emotional decision, you're typically thinking about all the people this decision will affect and how they will react. Many people associate the different types of people with the rainbow.
So this is the coloring-in of our decision-making!
When it comes to gut decisions, typically, it's far more subtle. You often don't know why you feel it's the right decision, but it feels like it is. These detail-oriented decisions sound much like adding highlights and shading to a picture.
Combining all three elements, we can get the most precise picture of the right decision.
If you're missing the logical piece, you may have no lines to color within.
Leave out the color, and people will see a cold, black-and-white decision.
If you only go with your gut, there may be trouble seeing the picture.
The recent wave of layoffs, especially those done carelessly, are perfect examples of decisions that probably had no consideration from the heart. Conversely, suppose the decision only followed the guidance of the heart. In that case, the company may have suffered or even closed altogether.
At this point, I knew how to prioritize decisions and think each one through. Now I felt like I just needed a way to review them once they were made and in place. After all, how can you know if your new process works if you never measure the results?
For this, I crossed paths with my time management process and set aside time to reflect on my decisions. I reviewed the more significant choices I had made recently to determine if it was working. If it wasn't working, I made new decisions on how I could correct its course. This final step helped by creating a circular process of improvement. Decisions continued to improve, which is the only way to enhance one's position in life.
In closing, remember it's never "It is what it is."
It's always "It is what you let it be."
So make great decisions, make it a great day, and a better tomorrow!
*Survey Link: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/unicornrioter_brain-heart-gut-activity-6958399411689250817-JRHM