One of the most powerful abilities that a human being possesses is decision making. The impact of a decision can leave a legacy that future generations will either benefit from or suffer with. Decisions act as middlemen between desire and action. Without a decision, every desire remains in potential form. In life, ideas, as great as they might be, are never actualized without a decision. When problems surface in a family, community, organization, or even a country, decisions open the path to see the possibilities toward the solution. Top motivational speaker Tony Robbins says that destiny is shaped in moments of decision. The stakes are high when it comes to making decisions.
What shapes quality decision making?
- Knowledge: Greek philosopher Plato is quoted as saying, “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” This does not mean you will know everything before you make a decision. Note: The best thing we can do for ourselves is prepare for the next decision by growing our body of knowledge consistently. Learning how to assimilate information and pull it out at the time of decision making is a lifelong process that culminates in the skill of wisdom. First, we must have knowledge of what is important. This helps to trim down the fat. This keeps us grounded and not swayed by our emotions, moods, fears, or temporary circumstances at the time of the decision. Regret is the result of realizing in hindsight that a decision made or action taken was done based on temporary feelings or circumstances. Second we should have knowledge of what is non-negotiable. When you make a decision, what will never change after that decision? For me, I underpin every decision I make with the understanding that I will still be a christian, husband, and a father. If my decision will compromise those non-negotiables then the decision is automatically wrong. Third, we must have knowledge of the facts that act as a compass to provide alignment between where we are and where we aim to be.
- Choices: Every decision comes with some element of sacrifice or trade off. Quality decisions will cost you. This is the place where the choice to proceed with the decision in light of the cost realized must be weighed or evaluated. The decision to become a writer has required me to sacrifice in the area of time in order to carve out ample time to write. The sacrifice is worth the decision because of the outcome desired. Leadership expert John Maxwell refers to the pay or play concept he learned from his father, “You can pay now, and play later, or you can play now and pay later but either way, you are going to pay.” What areas in your daily life are you choosing to play when you should be paying the cost by sacrificing now in order to reap later? What we choose to do daily is really a decision to progress or regress in life. Your choices today are good predictor of the decisions you will make in the future. Choose purpose over fleeting pleasures. Choose to endure the slow cooking process of lasting success that comes with hard work and persistence rather than the temporal passing of material wealth that can vanish as quickly as it was acquired. Choose to be humble, show your scars, and share your story with others as a testimonial to encourage rather than being pretentious and over inflated with self-embellishment. Always remember that the present trade off will lead to a future pay off. Stay the course.
- Counsel: An old proverb says, “Where there is no counsel, people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.” The word counsel here has little to do with words and more to do with steering a ship. With that picture in mind we get the idea that the right counsel or people in our life will steer us in the right direction as we open our lives to them. When making decisions, learn to seek advice. Counsel is your school of thought. It is how you tap into the knowledge grid of others and draw vital information needed to make sound decisions. Find people who will not massage your mind with flattery but lovingly cheer, challenge, and even confront you with the truth. The aim always being to steer you to your designed destiny. Always have two or three but not more than five people that you can call on when making a decision. Counsel will greatly increase your chances of making quality decisions. Prayer is also part of counsel and for me it is the first step when I need to make a decision. God’s instruction is always the best direction to making sound decisions. Most of the time you will discover that your relationships serve as a confirmation of the direction God has given. People close to us serve as safety nets akin to what is placed to catch an acrobat or a performer in the event of a fall. The safety net gives the performer confidence to know that if they fall they won’t get hurt and they can get back up and perform again. They also help us back on our feet to try again. In similar fashion, counselors give us confidence to live with our decisions knowing that we made the the right choices based on the wise counsel we received.
Final thought: Christian novelist C.S. Lewis remarked the following about decisions:
We are not living in a world where roads are radii of a circle and
where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually
nearer and finally meet at the center; rather in a world where
every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of
those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision.
It is by decisions that we write the story of our lives. Like I said at the beginning, the stakes are high when it comes to making decisions. The first decision, to your next decision is: make a wise decision.
Keep on Keeping on!