Choices, decisions, and options – they happen over and over all day, every day. There is an occasional big one that comes along, like “Should I hire that new CIO who will want to spend a lot of money?” But most are small choices. Still, no decision is too small for our consideration. Seemingly small decisions are often the ones that make a big difference. Deferring or avoiding a decision, however minor it may seem, could carry consequences and make for a life of coulda’s, woulda’s, shoulda’s.
Small decisions are like empty airline seats: once the plane takes off, it’s too late for the airline to worry about filling the seat. If that small decision is not made, it is quickly too late to worry about what could have been. Any decision, big or small, that is not made is another step into hell.
It is clear to me that a successful CEO is one who has learned to make decisions. It’s taken for granted that the big choices are worth the attention they receive. We agonize over them, analyze them, consult with gurus over them, chart them, and – admit it – we all make lists of pros and cons about those big choices. And we should. The everyday, seemingly little choices deserve a little space in the brain, too, and should not be relegated to the “whatever” dumper.
Our natural tendency is to defer choices whenever we can, like my client who proclaimed “whatever” when it came to the operator centers with thousands of job losses in the balance.
When my kids were little, I would give them a choice at bedtime: you can either go to bed, or you can take a bath and go to bed. That set of choices didn’t last long because soon they chose neither. The choices are usually not so clear in the workplace for the CEO.
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