decisions

HOW LEADERS MAKE DECISIONS

I’m almost finished writing my book on Decision Making titled How Leaders Make Decisions, and I wanted to give you a little taste of what the book will be about.  If you enjoy what you’re reading please share on social media!  Thanks and enjoy!

On Monday, May 24th, 2010 I was driving on my way to work as the Director of an Early Childhood Education Center. Before I headed down the road I inserted a personal development series on CD called Born to Win by Zig Ziglar for my fifteen minute commute. He started the series by asking the audience five questions, and these questions made such an impact on my life that I will ask you the same questions. Here they are:

  • How many of you absolutely believe that there is something you can do within the next two weeks that will make your life in every area completely worse?
  • How many of you believe there’s something you can do that will make it better?
  • How many of you believe that decision is yours?
  • How many of you believe that every decision has an end result?
  • How many of you believe that making right decisions is your responsibility?

As I listened to those questions I couldn’t help but answer ‘yes’ to all of the questions.

And then he dropped the bomb.

“If you just answered yes to all of those questions then this is what you just told yourself. No matter how good or bad your past has been. No matter how good or bad your present currently is. There is something that you can specifically do right now that will make your life either better or worse and the decision is yours.”

Now, if you were like me and you answered yes to all of those questions then it means something very powerful. With your decision making ability you have the power to determine how far and how fast you want to go in life. And that is really a big deal.

BUT THERE’S A PROBLEM.

We as human beings are notorious for making poor decisions. Let’s look at some different areas of life.

Let’s talk about Career Decisions for a moment. As I was reading the Washington Post I came across some interesting new data from Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The vast majority of U.S. college grads work in jobs that aren’t strictly related to their degrees:

The authors estimated that just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major.  That means that 73 percent of college grads DID NOT have a job that was closely related to their major.

Let’s talk about “graduate degrees” specifically because there may be some people reading this thinking to themselves that the statistics have got to be better when we are discussing graduate school.

I won’t get into specifics about all industries because the patterns seem to be prevalent throughout all industries, but let’s look at Law School, Pastors, and Teachers.

As of February 3rd, 2017, there are 32,757 applicants for the 2017–2018 academic year.

According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal, only 55% of class law school grads were employed full-time as lawyers nine months after graduation. The other 45% may be unemployed, working at Starbucks or starting their own blogs about how they hate law school.

Another study estimates that approximately 1,500 pastors leave their assignments each month, due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention within their local congregations.

When it comes to teachers, Researchers estimate that over 1 million teachers move in and out of schools annually, and between 40 and 50 percent quit within five years.

So we have a few examples of poor career decisions when it comes to which careers to choose.

Let’s talk about personal decisions because this gets really interesting.

If I asked you how many people do you think save for retirement what would you say. What would you guess?

Let me give you some statistics that will blow your mind.

  • The average American retires at age 63.
  • The average retirement lasts 18 years, but many last much longer.
  • You’ll need $1,060,751 in savings if you expect to draw $5,000 per month for 30 years, assuming 6% annual investment returns and 2% inflation. Depending on how much income you expect from your savings, adjust this amount higher or lower to come up with your retirement “number.”
  • The average 50 year old has $42,797 saved.
  • The average net worth of a 55-64 year old is $45,447.
  • 45% of Americans have saved nothing for retirement, including 40% of Baby Boomers.
  • 38% don’t actively save for retirement at all.
  • 20% of Americans tap into their 401(k) assets early, either through a loan or withdrawal.
  • 80% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 54 believe they will not have enough saved for retirement.

Americans know they won’t have enough money, but still won’t save.


The vast majority of those in the prime of their careers are aware they have a problem with their retirement savings.

Let’s talk about something else because that was hard to swallow.

Let’s talk about relationship decisions.

A study shows about 6 in 10 people have stayed in relationships they didn’t find fulfilling, according to The Daily Mail. The reason? They’re used to compromising — even when their partner cheated, disrespected them, or lied.

That’s 60%!

As you can see, MOST people just decide WRONG about what to do in their career, what to do with their money, and who to get involved with in relationships.

I said most, not all.

There’s lots of people with lots of regrets.

90% of people say they have a major regret about a decision they made in life according to the Huffington Post. Regret is the second most frequently mentioned emotion after love.

What do we have regrets about? Romance, family, education, career, finance. The more choices we have, the more regret we have about what we chose.

We feel the most regret about missed chances or missed opportunities. In the long-run, we’re more likely to regret things we didn’t do than things we did do.

Why is that? Our psychological immune system helps us recover from bad experiences quicker than we assume, thanks to our ability to rationalize and reframe how we see things.

But it’s harder to use these tricks to get over never having tried something in the first place.

So why do we have such a difficult time making right, good, sound decisions?

That’s my aim in this book. That’s my goal. To help you understand the different types of decisions that are out there.

To help you understand that there are pitfalls out there that will attempt to put you in harms way, make the wrong choice, and, in some cases, take years to recover.

After identifying different types of decisions, and understanding the pitfalls that sabotage making quality decisions, I will give you a Decision Making Process proven to help you make better decisions in all areas of life.

By the end of the book, you will have a good understanding of how to make better decisions. You still have to make them, but at least you’ll will be informed on HOW LEADERS MAKE DECISIONS.

 

words

Vocabulary… Words Matter…

“You idiot!”

 

“You’ll never amount to anything. Loser!”

 

“Why do I always do this?!”

 

 

You will always hear people say that words don’t matter.

We learn the old “sticks and stones” routine from a pretty young age.

The truth is that words do matter. I’m not talking about the blatant insults; I’m talking about the small bits of language that we use to color our lives and direct our paths.

The language we use to discuss ourselves, our goals, and our journey need to be positive, and they need to be the types of words that will keep us on our path and drive us.

No matter how many times we’ve recited “sticks and stones may break my bones…” to ourselves, we all know that words carry weight. They can create psychic scars and they can drive our narrative in ways we don’t even realize.

Think about some of the clichés we use every day:

 

“Same old, same old.”

“Pretty good.”

And even one that I used earlier:

“The good old days.”

 

These words tell us about where we are and where we’ve been. Today is kind of meh, kind of ordinary. Let’s look back at the past and focus on something we can’t change!

We also color our future with negative language. “I don’t think I can do that.” . . . “That’s not a possibility” . . .

  • Are these proactive approaches?
  • Constructive approaches?
  • Is that the kind of mentality that is going to keep us on the road to reach our goals?

A classic mentioned by Nan S. Russell in her writing is problem versus challenge.

Problems are static and often insurmountable; challenges are things that we are welcome to step up, meet, and transform.

Proactive language!

Using positive proactive language like this can literally change the way your mind processes what it takes in. Is something that happened at work a problem or a challenge? If it’s a challenge, then you are literally inviting yourself to step up and meet it, right?

Use proactive language whenever you can.

“The language we use to communicate is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm. Exactly as it is with our words.”

—Anonymous

Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations, and hold people back. Well-chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking, and alter results. I learned in twenty years in management that my words have power over my thoughts and actions. They also impact and influence people I speak to.

Have you ever heard the story of the two frogs that fell in a pit?

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods. They were all hopping along and enjoying themselves when two of them fell into a deep pit.

The pit was very deep; it was clear in an instant to the frogs on top that the height of the pit was well beyond the average leap of a frog. When the other frogs realized this, they told the two frogs in the pit to give up and that they were as good as dead.”

The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed of what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He lay down in a corner and had no more hope of ever getting out.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop tormenting himself. “Go lie down with the other frog and give up!” they shouted at him.

But he jumped even harder… and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs stared at him. “Why did you keep jumping? Didn’t you hear us?”

The frog stared at them blankly. He hadn’t heard them—he was deaf. He had thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

That is the power of words. An encouraging word to someone who is down or even to yourself can motivate and lift up. On the other hand, a destructive word can be just what it takes to tell us to give up.

Be careful of what you say—especially to yourself. Always encourage yourself. Encourage those around you; you will benefit from the positivity created through your efforts.

 

brooklyn bridge

Deciding to Respond… INSTEAD of React…

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Doctors tell us that Responding is positive and Reacting is negative.

How do they tell us that?

I was sick awhile ago and I went in for a check up. My doctor sent me over to Walgreens to pick up my medication, but before I left the office she said, “Take the meds, see how you feel, and come back and see me in a couple days.”

I went back to the doctor and she said, “Oh no, your body is having a bad Reaction to the medicine.”

Needless to say, she prescribed something else.  Before I left the office she said, ““Take the meds, see how you feel, and come back and see me in a couple days.  If the reaction is bad again, don’t wait to come in, CALL ME ASAP!”

I went back in and she said, “Oh good, your body is Responding to the treatment.”

Responding is positive, Reacting is negative.

You are going to encounter disappointment along the way in life.

It does not matter how perfectly you run your life, how committed you stay to your goals, or what level of success you reach, you will at some time or another experience disappointment.

What you do need to do when this happens is deal with it well and Respond. How many people do you know who deal with disappointment well?

How do you personally deal with disappointment?

Do you get angry?

Sad?

Do you blow it off as though nothing happened (which can potentially be as dangerous as the other options)?

The way in which you cope with disappointments is one of the defining factors in how you will do in life, and how well and how quickly you will achieve your goals.

Don’t wallow for too long.(a little wallowing is okay)

Don’t be angry forever. (a little righteous anger is okay)

But you can’t stay there long.

Be proactive.

Get back up and seek out new opportunities. Find a positive outlook on the turn of events.

Say this to yourself, “What if everything that has happened… has happened FOR me instead of TO me?”

Likewise, do not act as if nothing has happened.

Not properly assimilating a disappointment can leave it to fester, and affect you later on down the road.

Always take a moment to address what has happened.

Then allow yourself to proactively move forward.

Denial is one of the most effective ways to inflict harm on yourself and your progress.

Repression hurts and festers and leads to a system-wide infection.

Don’t brush aside your experience so effectively that you have never even processed it.

Remember, there are lessons there to learn, lessons that you can use down the road as you progress toward your goals.

There’s a very moving story around the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s a true testament of how a dedicated, committed human spirit and mind can be.

The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is an engineering feat, but it is also a feat of human potential.

A very ingenious engineer named John Roebling conceived the idea of the bridge.

A lot of other experts in his field tossed off his idea. They told him there was no way he would be able to build such an ambitious project with the technologies of the day.

Roebling was not about to be dissuaded from his dream.

He enlisted the help of his similarly innovative son, Washington, and set out to design, plan, build, and complete that engineering masterpiece.

They got the financing in place, got their permits and city paperwork taken care of, and hired a crew to begin construction.

Only a few months into the project, a truly disastrous event took place.

An on-site accident killed Roebling and left his son a quadriplegic with brain damage severe enough to prevent him from communicating with words.

Immediately, plans were made to scrap the project; how could that ambitious project continue without the only two people who really understood how to execute it?

The thing is, Washington was not down for the count—not by a long shot.”

Even though he lost his ability to move and communicate through the spoken word, Washington’s faculties were all still in place.

More importantly, his dream of building the bridge and his devotion to that dream had not faded.

So what did he do?

He engineered a new way to communicate.

In cooperation with his very patient and caring wife, Washington developed a system for communicating through finger taps.

An idea hit him as he lay in his hospital bed, and he developed a code for communication.

He literally tapped out instructions for the construction of the bridge and oversaw the entire project from his bed for thirteen more years.

So you can see how the bridge is not only a miracle of engineering, but also a miracle of human ambition and commitment, too.

No matter how carefully we lead our lives, we are going to experience disappointment.

It is inevitable that we will see failure, grief, pain, and every type of disappointment come into our lives.

Since you are sure to see disappointments, make sure you keep an extra sharp eye out for joy.

Spend time with people you love and value: family, friends, mentors, anyone who brings you solace, love, and joy. These moments of balance and bliss will make you that much more prepared when disappointments arrive.