The What versus Why of Decision Making

I was chatting with a close friend who needed to make a big decision. I listened as he talked through all the things going through his head. He listed the pros and cons of each path he was considering. Toward the end of the conversation, I realized he was afraid to make the wrong decision and his fear had paralyzed him.

As a founder, I learned that indecision could kill my company (a few times, it almost did). I didn’t want my company to die, so I learned to make decisions more quickly. I was still afraid they could be wrong. I got over this by telling myself that incorrect decisions were inevitable, and they weren’t mistakes, they were just painful lessons that improved future decision-making.

As I got more confident in my decision-making and leadership, I learned to distinguish between what my gut was telling me and what my brain was telling me. I realized that my gut usually gave me a quick answer on what I should do, and my brain rationalized why I should do something but it took more time. I eventually figured out that my gut was usually right and leveraged it more in my decision-making. I would listen to my gut to decide what I was going to do (and write it down). If I needed to have others execute the decision, I leveraged my brain to articulate the reasons for my decision. Otherwise, I’d just execute it myself and not worry about the why.

Making decisions is one of the biggest responsibilities of founders. You can’t avoid them or put them off. They must be made. Luckily, everyone can have their own decision-making style, and no one expects perfection. Whatever your approach, always strive to improve it, because the better you get at making decisions the more likely your company is to succeed.