Don’t take forever to make a decision, but don’t make it too fast. -Micah Baldwin
The thought process of selecting a logical choice from the available options.
When trying to make a good decision, a person must weight the positives and negatives of each option, and consider all the alternatives. For effective decision making, a person must be able to forecast the outcome of each option as well, and based on all these items, determine which option is the best for that particular situation. (via businessdictionary)
Making Big Decisions and Mastering the Consequences
James McCann, the founder of 1-800 Flowers, related this story about the early days of his company:
In 1986 I bought the assets of a failed floral company in Texas called 800-Flowers and took that name. I thought I was smarter than everyone else and neglected to hire lawyers and bankers to do due diligence. I unknowingly signed for all liabilities, which I later learned was a debt of $7 million. People advised me to file for bankruptcy. Then my grandmother took me aside and said: “This bankruptcy thing? We don’t do that. Find another way.”
And he did. The Texas company’s sterling assets were its name and its 1-800 number. McCann built his company around technology – first phone ordering, then the internet – to upend the floral-delivery business and create a market leader with over $600 million in annual revenues.
We often confront situations where we have to make a decision without all the information we’d like to have. Do we jump? Or wait and see?
Many of us err on the side of “wait and see,” using due diligence as a way to put off risk, or to avoid it completely. Yet, the above stories tell us that even big mistakes can turn out successfully. It all depends on your mindset:
1. Don’t just focus on the downside; understand the opportunity.
Keep in mind that it’s not easy to look at both sides of a situation. In fact, as discovered by pioneering behavioral economists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, we are wired to value losses higher than equivalent gains. The classic, two-column “Pros and Cons” list can be helpful here. Bad things will be easier to think of than good ones – try to come up with an equal number of items in each column. How do they stack up?
2. Understand that you will shape the outcome.
When you make a decision, you don’t just sit back and see how things unfold; you will actively engage to help ensure success. Ironically, when you start off the wrong way, as Jim McCann did, you become even more committed to turning it around – your reputation and pride are on the line.
3. Stick with it.
Psychology researcher Carol Dweck discusses the trait that McCann had in spades, and that you will need to make your decision into a long-term success, no matter what happens:
Exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting life’s setbacks into future successes. Creativity researchers concur. In a poll of 143 creativity researchers, there was wide agreement about the number one ingredient in creative achievement… perseverance and resilience.
Most of our decisions have limited risks and rewards. Nevertheless, if we know that with hard work, perseverance, and resourcefulness we can make even a bad situation into a success, we can approach any decision we face with that confidence. As my father-in-law said about his experience buying that apartment building: “Failure is an opportunity.”