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Creating Successful Leaders

Decisions bombard us every minute of every hour of our day. They come in all types: some are so trivial and daily–like choosing what to wear or eat–that we hardly notice them, while other types of decisions can make life pretty stressful. Still others appear trivial at first, but turn out to be deceivingly tricky. How to word an email, for instance, seems small but can be extremely difficult.

So the question inevitably comes along: How do we make decisions, and how do we know that our decisions are good at the time that we make them?

Understanding a bit of psychology helps us answer these questions. We know, for example, that gut decisions are generally not good decisions, because they are fueled by our emotions, which as we know, can shift in a heartbeat. Tony Swartz, CEO of The Energy Project, writes that “Our first challenge is resist being reactive. Many of our worst decisions occur after we’ve been triggered–meaning that something or someone pushes us into negative emotion and we react instinctively, fueled by our stress hormones, in a state of fight or flight.”

Any decision we make under this kind of fight or flight stress is only concerned with resolving the present issue and disregards future consequences. You can see why this usually doesn’t work out. A shortsighted perspective yields rash decisions that cause more stress in the long run.

This isn’t to say that decisions should be completely divorced from your feelings. Some decisions that make the most logical sense aren’t always the best decisions to make. Sometimes irrational decisions yield the greatest benefits (see my post on taking risks). So I know that our feelings are deeply tied to how we choose, as they should be. However, I do want to caution you to take a step back when you have the urge to make an impulsive decision. If it’s a decision you should make, that feeling will stay with you, and therefore you can sit on it for a day.

This is because good decisions are based on how you’ll benefit from them in the long run . Of course, what you wear today is not a very world-shattering decision, but you can view your little decisions as components of larger patterns. What you tend to wear, or how you tend to eat, compose a larger lifestyle you create for yourself. And because all the aspects of your lifestyle are connected, you can always trace your larger decisions back to the small ones.

In summary:

1. Good Decisions aren’t based on reactions. Decisions should be thorough, and to be thorough you need perspective, which leads to point 2…

2. Good Decisions are made when you have a healthy view of yourself and your surroundings.

3. Good Decisions follow your deepest convictions. What values do you hold to? Where do you see yourself a few years down the line? What are your dreams? These questions help guide you to making the decisions that give you the life you want to have.


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