I’m not a great decision maker, which is why I was totally out of my element last week as I stood on a car auction lot with over 2,000 vehicles of various makes and models. Through a friend of a friend I was permitted to visit the lot the day before the auction. I felt a little pressure to choose a car since I was given this sneak peek to search for a bargain and was giving up half my day to do so. I was there because the three of us living under my roof were having a hard time surviving since I recently said goodbye to my old Accord (read blog here). Having only two vehicles for three people is a major first world problem, but I digress.
Here are two decision making principles I was reminded of on the car lot and what to do when neither works.
PRECIDE BEFORE YOU DECIDE
I’m pretty sure precide is not a word (my word processor has placed a red squiggly under it), but the definition I attach to it is “to make part of a decision ahead of time.” Determine before decision time what you will say no to. In other words, narrow your choices based on convictions. It will help you see more clearly. It helped me choose my next car. Here's a hint.....
It was really cool to find a Maserati as I walked the lot. What a feeling to sit in that luxury vehicle, press the ignition button and hear the engine roar, imagining it was mine. But I precided years ago I would never again go into debt for a car (plus this car would be a clear sign of a mid life crisis). So I moved on. Here are some other pre-cisions that may help you move more quickly in a better direction: precide not take a job where you are asked to compromise your integrity or where you don’t like the boss; precide not to date someone who is deep in debt or who has anger issues; precide not to yell at the ref during your child’s ballgame; precide not to jump off the bridge even if all your friends do; precide not to pet the nice looking Pit Bull. Pick your own decision making guidelines but choose them when you are not in the heat of the moment. I once heard a pastor tell a group of students, “when you are in the back seat with your date, it is too late to decide how far you will go.” You have to figure some things out ahead of time. Fewer options increase your chances of choosing wisely. More options muddy the water. As Herbert Simon has said, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
GO WITH YOUR GUT
I have written before about taking risks (here and here) and gathering wise counsel (here). Each of these can serve you well but you will sometimes find they conflict with each other. In such cases, at the end of the day you have to go with your gut. Your gut is the inner voice you will learn to trust over time. If it’s operating properly it will sometimes tell you to risk and sometimes tell you to play it safe. The gut tells investors when to buy and when to sell. It tells coaches when to punt and when to go for it. It tells relationship seekers when to move forward and when to move on. It is often your first instinctive thought. After weighing every option you keep coming back to it. You have lived with your gut longer than anyone else. The only way to move forward with no regret is to listen to others, listen to your heart, listen to your head, but go with your gut. It is ultimately what you trust, and trust is the most important part of decision making.
As crazy as it sounds, I didn’t buy any of the 2,000 cars on the lot last week. I am not a car guy and I didn’t trust myself to make a good decision. Instead, when my friend’s friend offered me his own car at a fair price, I took it. Why? Because I trusted him and my gut always moves toward trust.
CLARITY OVER CERTAINTY
Sometimes after weighing every option and narrowing the choices your gut is still silent. There are no good options or there are several. There is little certainty. Andy Stanley teaches on the importance of being clear even when you are not certain. This is not a “fake it til you make it” approach (I am generally not a fan of this approach but that is a post for another day), but an admission of uncertainty while moving clearly in a determined direction. Sometimes you simply must make the best decision you can, move forward and not look back. It’s not complicated, but it is hard. Show courage, be clear to yourself and to those you are leading. Your clarity will give you the power to progress in spite of the obstacles. Clarity means you are moving forward; seeking certainty means you are stuck in neutral. Get moving.
What decision has you stuck and is keeping you from moving forward? Read back through the principles above and apply them to your situation. Let me know if I can help you find direction.