In his classic book Managing Oneself, Peter F. Drucker explains many dimensions of self awareness. These dimensions include how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and so on. The idea is to get to know yourself in each dimension and work from your strengths.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who isn’t retired yet. It gave me a lot of a-ha moments about my working life. I wonder why this book isn’t a required reading in all corporations.
Working from your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses is a common self-management advice. However, Drucker adds a little twist to that. He says spot your deadliest weaknesses and fix them. I agree with him on that.
One of the dimensions in Managing Oneself is being a decision maker vs being an adviser. This was an eye-opener for me. I realized that I was a complete adviser and not a decision maker, unless the situation was so obvious that it was impossible to make the decision.
Frankly, I don’t agree with Peter Drucker on accepting who you are on being a decision maker vs being an adviser. In my experience, decision makers get further in their lives and careers, compared to advisers. If you want to make the most of your life, you have to become a decision maker. The opposite is to flounder in hesitation, stay where you are, and not enjoy what life has to offer. And yes, it is completely possible to become a decision maker, even if you are the worst case of an adviser, that is hesitating all the time, analyzing the situation thoroughly, but never daring to pull the trigger.
I have not a single doubt that the road to success passes through making a lot of decisions. Deciding and acting on your decisions produce way better results than hesitating and over-analyzing. The question then is “how are you going to become a decision maker?” Keep on reading for my take on that.
How to Become a Decision Maker
You have probably heard the saying “Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.” That is exactly what we are going to do. We are just going to decide and act on our decisions. We have two options when we do that. We either make a good decision and succeed. Or we will make a bad decision and gain some experience. In both cases, we win. So, there’s no way to lose as long as we keep making those decisions.
By not deciding, you are actually making the worst decision. Indecision results in inertia. In a world that advances so fast staying where you are too long means you are actually falling behind.
Step 1. Find a Decision that Needs to be Made
So, how do we become a decision maker? The first step is to become aware that you are actually hesitating. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware of our own condition until somebody or an event points it out to us. Take a look at your life or work and see where you are hesitating. Where are you postponing a decision?
Step 2. Determine All the Options
When you find a decision to be made, the second step is to write down all the possible options. In some cases, you have two options, yes or no. In others, you have more options to choose from. Once you have come up with the options, write down quickly three arguments for each option. If this process seems to take too long for you. Give yourself an hour to complete it. Not any more than that. At the end of one hour, you will have formulated the decision to be made, your options, and three arguments for each option.
Step 3. Decide or Let the Universe Decide for You
Once you have completed the analysis above, see if the decision is obvious to you. Can you make a decision now? If not, don’t waste any more time and proceed with the next step. Give a number to each option. Then go to random.org and pick a random number between 1 and the total number of options on your list. Congratulations, you have made your decision. You have let random.org made your decision. This is it. There is really nothing more to it. This is all there is to decision making.
Yes, I know. Right now, you are sick to your stomach, but believe me the decision that random.org made for you is a much better decision than your default decision, which was your indecision. Let me explain. If you hesitate between two or more options, that means each option is equally good or equally bad. So actually, there is no way for you to find out which option is better unless you decide on one of them and play it out in real world.
Step 4. Act on Your Decision
I’m going to repeat it again, because this is crucial, life changing information. If you hesitate between two or more options, that means each option is equally good or equally bad. There is no way for you to find out which option is better unless you decide, act on that decision, and see the results in the real world. For that reason, what matters is not making a decision as you might think. “What matters is dealing with the results of the decisions you make,” as Michael Neill explains in his book Supercoach. For that reason, just make a decision and act on it. Toss a coin if you have to and suppose that God or the Universe made the decision for you and trust that it will be in your best interest whatever the outcome.
The good news is as you keep making decisions, you get used to it. You improve your decision making muscles and your fear of decision disappears. Hopefully, you will come to a point, when you won’t have any hesitancy in you. You make decisions on autopilot without even thinking about them and make progress with light-speed. Go for it!