Ever been behind someone walking or in traffic and they can’t decide which way to go, so they just stop. There is no way around them. Now their indecisiveness has just impacted your world. Yikes! You think, “Dude (or dudette), just make a choice! Pick a lane! This is not life or death.” Whether a choice is simple or life-changing, you have to go through a decision process. What is your process?
While walking through the airport as I was heading back from speaking in Portland, OR, someone did just that, stopped in front of me, and there was no way around them. I was in no hurry, but I still had a tiny little thought: “Please, just pick a lane.” That little moment gave me the idea for writing this article. There was a bottleneck of people behind Mr. Indecisive. Our progress through the airport came to a screeching stop.
More importantly, it also gave me an “aha.” I realized the same thing happens in our lives. We create a backup. When we “waffle” on a decision, we often miss opportunities and delay our own progress. Our “waffling” actually often creates new issues that would not have come up if we had just made a decision! We worry so much about making a bad decision that we do worse; we make no decision. That has consequences, too.
Friends and colleagues who know how I run my business see me as very decisive. This is not always true and especially not in my personal life. I know I could use some help in making better decisions faster. Ed Tate had told me about a book by Chip and Dan Heath titled Decisive. After my “aha” in the airport, I quickly made a decision: I needed to get the book. It was a simple, fast decision.
Why was I able to make that decision so quickly and easily? I asked myself that same question. First, their previous book, Made to Stick, is one of my all time favorites. I think every presenter should have it. I like their style, approach, their stories and the way they made things very clear to me. My dyslexia makes reading frustrating most of the time, even though I know it is good for me. I have many books on my nightstand I have yet to read, I know they will make learning about being more decisive interesting. Second, as mentioned, Ed recommended it. Third, it addressed a current challenge that I have. That is all I needed. That is a decision-making process. I bought the book on Sunday.
After buying the book, I decided to go to see the movie Heaven is for Real. (Great movie, by the way; my third time seeing it.) I had about 25 minutes before the movie started, and I was meeting friends there. I was trying to decide if I had enough time to eat. I went into a Cuban restaurant near the theater, looked at the menu, and sat down at the bar to order, but it felt like it was going to take too long. I had also noticed that there was a new pizzeria right next door. I thought I might be able to be served more quickly there. When I walked in, I realized it was more of a sit-down restaurant than a take-out place. I decided to go back to the Cuban restaurant. It was closer to the theater, and I could see my friends when they arrived. I asked the bartender what the quickest item would be. He said, “Steak sandwich.” I said, “Done.” I then opened my new book and began to read. The sandwich came quickly, but I was running out of time. I don’t like to rush my eating, but I did. As I was snarfing down my steak sandwich, I realized how much time I had wasted trying to make the best decision. Ugh. I will gain some insight from this book.
Although I have only just begun reading the book, I love a pearl of wisdom that I’ve already gleaned from it. I think it applies to emerging speakers. In the book the authors were talking about people who get onto reality talent shows and are shocked when the judges give them horrible reviews. Shocked? Really? No one ever told them how much they needed to work on their talent before they went for it? I bet some did. The book says,
Brilliant. Sometimes we support our decisions only with what we want to see. We let emotions get in the way of a preponderance of proof. When I was working on my World Championship speech, in trial runs many people in the audience told me that when I fell on my face, they were uncomfortable because I was lying on the stage too long. They told me to get up sooner. It became unanimous everywhere I gave the speech. If I had made a decision to “get up sooner” in my speech, it would have seemed like a good decision. After all, speeches are about the audience, aren’t they?
When I asked Mark Brown, my coach, about the unanimous feedback I was getting, he said, “Darren, the goal of our speech is not to make the audience comfortable. It is actually to make them uncomfortable so they will change.” Ah. Glad I asked. I made the decision to listen to my coach. The new, higher level of expertise made my decision simple. Why? It was because I had trusted and committed to my coach through this process. Who influences your decisions?
When making your decisions, where do you get your pool of data? Do you seek confirmation to prove what you want to be right? Or do you take the time to visit both sides of the decision, even if it is not what you want to do? Do you consider that there are other options as well? How long do you take to decide? Are you better with decisions at home, work, relationships or finances? Take the time to consider your decision-making process in areas you are decisive in and areas you in which you may be less decisive. How does your decision process differ based on the subject at hand? What can you learn from that?
I’m not trying to sell this book to you. I have no affiliate link. I’m just writing what I’m living in order to help. Whatever challenge you have in your life right now, I suggest, go get “the book.” Getting more expert insight may just help you. Maybe what you need is just a higher perspective than you have now. When I wanted to be a comedian, a comedian told me to get Judy Carter’s book, Stand-up Comedy: The Book. Great decision. When I started screenwriting, a Hollywood producer suggested getting the book The Screenwriter’s Workbook by Sid Field. Great decision. What “book” (or audio or video) could help you in your life right now?
Before we judge that person who stops in front of us in traffic and get upset, let’s remember that we all have areas in our lives where we do the same thing. It affects our lives and the people in our lives as well as people who are behind us.
Now, after rereading my own article, I can’t decide if it is helpful or not, can you?
Please post your comments below.