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What the hell should I do? A guide to making decisions under pressure

We all try to use common-sense when making decisions, but this can be difficult during periods of turbulence and change. Read on to find out our three easy steps for keeping your head while making tough calls.

 

One day, a young executive asked the company president, “How do you run this company so well? What’s your secret?”

“Well,” the president said, “I make good decisions.”

The junior executive asked, “How did you learn how to make such good decisions?”

“I have a lot of experience.”

“But how did you get your experience?”

With a little smile, the president answered, “By making bad decisions.”

 

Most of us try to make good decisions, and often they do work out. At the same time, we have all made bad decisions, and hopefully, like the company president, they have taught us a lesson.

Research shows that people make good decisions when they follow a common-sense process. However, during periods of turbulence and change, common sense can become a lot less common. 

It’s easy to let logic take a back seat when we’re feeling highly stressed and emotional. So how can we ensure our decision-making process remains robust?

Three-step guide to making good decisions

To help you keep your head when making tough calls this year, here is a quick three-step guide to follow.

  1. Ask questions and gather facts

Make sure you are across the situation as completely as possible. Ask your team and any advisors probing questions until you fully understand what’s going on and what’s at stake. There are no stupid questions; if you don’t understand something then keep asking until you do. It’s the responsibility of each and every expert to communicate issues clearly and concisely.

  1. Talk to somebody else

Articulating the issues and getting them out of your own head can be worth the exercise, even if whoever you are talking to doesn’t help directly. Better still, consult a trusted advisor who has been down a similar path before. In other words, ask somebody who has made plenty of mistakes!

  1. Buy yourself some time

Avoid getting put into a corner and being pressed for a quick answer. Consider your options for a minimum of 24 hours and hopefully much longer. Giving yourself time to think can improve outcomes significantly.

Tell the parties you have to speak with somebody else so you don’t put it all on yourself. In other words, park your ego.

Whatever is going on while you’re making a decision, remember to stay cool and breathe. Repeat this tried and trusted saying: This too shall pass.

If you feel isolated, then reach out. It’s okay to ask for help, and if you don’t have a team then build one over time – a couple of people who have your back and have earned the right to pitch-in is all you need.

Good luck: we hope you make some great decisions in 2021.

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