Rate your decision-making

One of the key separating features between the successful and the not-so successful people is the quality of decisions each set of people makes.

In general, successful people tend to make better or more correct decisions. Of course, they too make some wrong decisions but that is easily offset by the many good decisions they make.

Today, we want to spend a little time on this important topic.

The starting point on this assessment is whether you do make decisions at all? We are talking of personal decisions, including how you choose your profession, how you choose which company or organisation to work for and whether to do certain things or not.

You will be surprised, but there are so many people that procrastinate so much on decision-making.

Success gravitates towards people who are brave enough to make decisions, especially those that take tough decisions when it is necessary. I remember an instance when I was the student union president at the Polytechnic in 2001.

There was a case where one student accused the other of having stolen his big and good music system. The case was heard at my office in the union. There must have been two or three of us in the union dealing with the case.

When I listened to the accuser, his arguments were very convincing that indeed the other gentleman was the culprit who stole the expensive system. However, when I listened to the accused person, it also appeared vividly clear that he was not the culprit.

With my friend and then union vice president the Late Ekari Mbalame, we struggled with this. In the end, we did not take any decision. We left the case to die a natural death.

Three years later, I was chatting with a top South African judge and I casually shared this experience. He challenged me that I was supposed to still take a decision. That was a big wake up call to me, that I should be prepared to always make a decision even when it is very difficult or tricky but if a decision has to be made, I cannot abscond, postpone or delegate.

I hope you too have been convinced by this compelling advice from a top judge who earns his bread and butter from making tough decisions on court cases every day.

The second part to this issue is the actual quality of decisions we make. Do we actually make good decisions in general? This is easy to test. When we are making a decision, we are solving some problem or trying to satisfy some aspiration. We imagine the positive change that would arise from this decision.

Therefore, it is easy after sometime, to check if our decision did achieve the intended goals or not. Of course, some of the times, we fail not because we made the wrong decision but because of failure in execution and implementation of the decision. But, even that can easily be determined.

As we reflect on this important topic, I invite you to review three or five of your key decisions in the past five to 10 years – decisions that had a major bearing on your life, like choice of profession, choice of job, even choice of partner! First, let us be clear, this reflection is not for you to change the past, but to draw the big lessons that will prevent you from making wrong decisions in the future.

From this analysis and reflection, you will have a clear picture of how you can rate your decision making and them you can begin to determine the correct ways of making good decisions. A good starting point on that journey is to study your peers that seem to be making good decisions most of the time.

We have discussed  how important it is to make good decisions most of the times and how this is key to whether you become successful or not. Even when you are successful already, you should continuously guard yourself from making wrong decisions which can quickly erode your success and track record. All the best!

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