Stop wasting so much time on decisions.
I know this immediately seems like I’m telling you to fly by the seat of your pants and put no planning into your decisions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As an innovator, business leader, entrepreneur, parent or friend. The truth is you have to make quick decisions, and ultimately the responsibility falls on your shoulders.
The goal of this article is to pose a simple question. Do we waste time and therefore opportunity by over-analyzing possibilities, and not just pulling the trigger?
For those of you who read my article Business Innovation Requires Patience this again may seem like a counter-intuitive statement, but hang on, there is logic behind it.
So Many Decisions. So Little Time
Just think about the number of decisions you make everyday. Not big decisions. The number you have to make each day. Where to get coffee. Where to eat. What clothes to wear. What to do after work. The list goes on and on.
Now think about how many of those decisions you make in the blink of an eye.
99% of decisions are made with very little conscious thought. We react instinctively based on our past experiences. If every decision made was thought out, we would never get anything done.
As a decision maker in business, because of the responsibilities and ramifications of the choices we make, often we find ourselves over-thinking and wasting both time and opportunities. This could be a hiring decision, closing a deal, making a pivot in the business model.
So often, in the same blink of an eye as choosing where to get coffee, you know what the right choice is, but spend hours, days or even weeks trying to find reasons your gut instinct is wrong.
As a society, we are conditioned to search for all the reasons we are WRONG first, not why it’s the RIGHT option. By default, we immediately lengthen the time needed to make a decision, because everything being researched, discussed and/or keeping you up at night is negative. If everything you’re contemplating is a negative, it’s only natural to doubt your judgement.
I say look for the positives first. Very often, the supporting evidence to it being the right decision become readily apparent. If this is the case, then pull the trigger and go for it. Don’t waste time and energy, and more importantly, don’t miss opportunities.
Justification Of Quick Decisions
As experts in our relative fields, we know the right answer very quickly as our subconscious is analyzing and predicting outcome much more rapidly than our conscious mind. Our body even gives us physical instructions that we refer to as “gut feelings”.
When you learn to “go with your gut” rather than ignore it, you will be amazed at how much stress will fall away and the speed of which you can make correct decisions.
Studies going on for almost a century have consistently shown that our “gut reaction” is generally correct 90% of the time. Since these reactions are happening literally in the blink of an eye, the time spent looking for reasons you’re wrong becomes harder to justify. This is NOT to say you should never ask second opinions. For major decisions always look for additional validations to your initial thoughts.
Personal Defense Of Rapid Decision Making
The logic outlined has been the way I have operated my entire life. For years, I often questioned myself because so many people viewed my actions a “flying by the seat of my pants” and not thinking things through. More than a few times it was viewed as arrogance.
However, as time and again my gut instinct turned out to be the correct path, I made the conscious decision to let the chips fall where they may. This has led to being able to grow successful companies, make great hiring decisions, connect with amazing mentors and overcome adversity.
As the demand for quick pivots, instant gratification, and evolving limits of time continues to expand, my closing argument is this:
Nobody is perfect and there will always be times we make the wrong decision. The faster we know whether it was the right or wrong choice, the quicker we can either enjoy the rewards or recover from the mistake.
Learn More About The Science
Many of you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking where he dives into the concept of “thin-slicing” and using our adaptive unconscious; mental processes that work rapidly and automatically from relatively little information, to make the correct decision very rapidly.
For anyone who hasn’t, I strongly recommend you take the time to read it. For those of you who already use this process but don’t understand the scientific justification, it will be extremely encouraging. For others, it will radically change your life.