I was in the crowd of passengers awaiting to board the next train and watching a young couple saying goodbye. Well, they were kissing goodbye. The young lady was the traveler and her train was boarding. The conductor gave the last call. She picked up her bag, stepped forward as her train began to slowly move and then she stopped. The boyfriend urged her to climb on. She took one step, hesitated and missed the train. The look on the young man’s face was priceless.
I smiled to myself and caught my train moments later. A few miles down the track I stopped smiling as I recalled the missed opportunities in my life because I hesitated.
Decision making can be challenging when things are moving quickly and time is short - the typical conditions that leaders have to deal with daily and the reasons why we hesitate. But the cost of a missed opportunity is much bigger than simply missing a train.
How can we be better prepared to make the right decisions?
1 - Don't make a decision if you have limited information.
It is wise to delay for a short time to get better information.
2 - Gather a reasonable amount of details - enough to be confident.
You shouldn't delay a decision hoping to gather 100% of the details. Getting all the facts is not realistic and if you do succeed in compiling all the information it may be too late to make the choice.
3 - Get the counsel of trusted people.
Don’t hesitate to ask for some perspective or insights. Too often, we fail to make the right decisions because we didn’t know the history of a situation or we’re too vested in the outcome to see the blind spots.
4 - Listen to your instincts.
Information is great, but if you have that intuitive sense that one direction is better than another - give it consideration. Steve Jobs was well known for his “stop the presses” attitude when it came to the direction of Apple products. The information he was receiving might have made sense, but he was constantly assessing how that matched up to his instincts on design and the user experience. What are your instincts telling you?
Colin Powell once said, "The key is not to make quick decisions, but to make timely decisions."
What are you considering today? What opportunities exist? Are you ready to take the steps or are you hesitating? Don’t miss your train!