Chapter 1: Making decisions

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Hi people,

The other day, I wrote about Leadership using the show, The Apprentice as a context. The contrast of authoritative vs facilitative leadership made me think about my own life. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve never volunteered to lead anything. Any leadership position I found myself in occured as a result of either being forced into it, or the task falling back to me, de facto. I realize now that, even as a young child, I knew that Leadership involved making decisions. If there is anything I hated/hate more than having people disagree or be displeased with me, it’s making the wrong decision (shameful, I know!)

As part of my training, my supervisor would give me various scenarios and say, “what do you say?” and instantly, I’m in the spotlight. like a deer who ventured too far onto the highway. What do I say? What is the right thing to say? I would fumble with my words, blink a couple of times, cross and uncross my legs and come up with something barely coherent and audible. She would then give me an answer that sounded more coherent, rational, more well-thought out that I could have ever put together. When I ask how these answers were formed, the word would come back time and time again: Experience. So, that’s what it is. Experience is key to making good decisions. It makes sense to me now why, in many cases, people who start from the bottom one day end up owning the whole enterprise. Or why certain professions require you to start as a lowly apprentice/assistant. The more experience you accumulate, the more you learn how to tackle various circumstances. The better you are at doing so, the better decisions you make. The better decisions you make , the more confident you become and the more people start to take notice. And being the top chef, the chief officer, the head honcho, the big poobah means making decisions: the easy and the hard ones…the right and the wrong ones.

Looking back on freshman year in college, I think most of the frustrations were due to making decisions without a lot of experience. Decisions needed to be constantly made about classes, social circles, time, etc. As the years passed and experience was gained, most of the things that were frustrating as a first-timer become almost common sense. What classes to take? Depends on how early you want to wake up, what perspective (GPA-booster or mind-stimulator) you wanted to get or how early you wanted to leave campus for Christmas break. Where to live? Depends on whether you wanted to live with friends or semi-strangers, walk uphill or not, cook or not. As a senior, it wasn’t hard to see freshmen as people who over-thought a lot of things, stressed a little bit too much about some things and tried a little bit too hard sometimes.

So, how do you make decisions when you are now a freshman in life, without a lot of experience backing you up? I’m finding out that the answer differ from person to person. For me, I’m finding myself relying a lot on my faith these days. I’ve learned that my “gut feeling” shouldn’t be divorced from “my head”. Both should be married and preceded by a trust in God. So, what is my gut telling me to do? What’s the advice I’ve gotten from others/internet research? What is my deducted answer based on all the information gathered? Then, I make the decision and leave it up to God to turn what may be an incomplete/incorrect answer into a complete and correct one.

I still agonize over decisions, because I hate hate hate being wrong. But I know that the wake up call is this “Guess what? You are going to be wrong many, many times. Get over it. What do you do when you find out you’ve made the wrong decision? You take responsibility for it (gulp!) and you work to start fixing it.” (I imagine Khloe Kardashian telling me this, because I imagine her to be wake-up call giver of the family…yes, I may or may not have watched episodes :D)

Last week, I found myself in the hot seat at a car dealership hard-pressed by money-hungry car salesmen to make a decision. I was later kicking myself in my pants for making what I perceived to be a really bad decision. What happens when 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours later after having made a decision, you start to think that you made a horrible decision? Here’s what I learned from that experience. First, vent to someone who is able to calm you down and help you see something in the situation you’re just too blind to see. Talk to God, admitting your conviction about the situation and give it up to Him. Then, you sleep on it, continue to pray and wait for things or your perspective to start changing.

I’m open to learning. So, feel free to write in the comments section about how you make decisions or what you do when you realize you’ve made a bad one.

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