By Ursula Jorch
As an entrepreneur and leader, you make a lot of decisions, every day. Your ability to make decisions enhances your ability to run your business effectively. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a necessary trait.
Often, those decisions are made with some kind of time constraint. Even if that’s not the case, which is rare, you have to weigh how much time and mental energy a decision is taking, so you will make a choice sooner rather than later.
I’ve developed that decisiveness muscle in my business, and for the most part, it has served me well. However, like all traits, decisiveness can have its downsides.
What Does It Mean to Make the Best Decision?
The Latin root of the word ‘decision’ means, ‘to cut off’, as in cutting you off from some other course of action.
When you’re feeling vulnerable and even fearful, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next, making a decision can feel good. It can provide relief. Now you know what’s next. The feelings of vulnerability diminish and you feel in control again.
But are you really making the best decision? Decisions made to ease discomfort or fear can be the least beneficial, for your business and everyone in it, including you.
Especially if you’re a thinker, someone who relies on their intellect, that can get you into trouble when it involves people. When a member of your senior team makes a mistake that costs the company money, how do you handle it? When you have an employee who has an outburst with a customer while they’re dealing with pressures at home, what do you choose to do?
It can be tempting to lash out, even with the finality of a decision to fire someone.
The Better Way To Make Decisions
Before you react quickly, there is another way.
Weighing other courses of action as carefully as the one that gives you a quick hit of relief can save you a lot of grief, time, and money in the longer run.
One way to think about this is to consider, how can I bring more love into this situation? That may sound odd for a business decision. Ultimately, your business runs on people connections. Connections with clients, your team, and suppliers. The impact you want to have with your business depends on others. None of us has impact alone.
When Patagonia’s CEO Casey Sheahan was faced with laying off 150 employees during the financial crisis, he was torn up about the decision. His wife asked him, “Are you making this decision from a place of fear, or from a place of love?” When he realized that it was fear driving the layoff decision, he found another way, leading to unheard-of high sales levels after a few rocky quarters.
Love doesn’t mean ignoring issues. It means approaching them with caring, so that new options open up. You don’t always have to be the one coming up with the solutions. In any case, more love is never a bad thing.
Transferring decisiveness into your personal life can have consequences too. When you’re used to operating a certain way all day, you take that into your world outside your business too. When you value someone and have a connection, and you make a decision about them or that involves them, you’re cutting off other options. Do you really want to do that? Could you talk with them about it, consider alternatives, perhaps ones that will preserve the relationship more? How can you bring more love into the situation?
There is a Native American parable about a young man who says to his grandfather, I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” When asked which wolf will win, the old man replies, “The one you feed.”
How do you feed the choice to bring more love and compassion into your business? By being aware, and by practicing more consciousness in your decisions.
Decisions do need to be made if you’re a leader or entrepreneur. There is a point at which other options necessarily have to be left behind before you can move forward effectively.
When it comes to decisions that affect people, though, check in with yourself: is this really the only way? You may find some wonderful alternatives in the vulnerability of not knowing.
About the author
Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.
Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.