Success stems from an accumulation of wise choices. But consistently making good decisions and sound judgments in a frenetic world is challenging. These 11 entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles share their steps to improve your decision making today.
1. Simplify the battlefield
As a leader in the U.S. Navy SEALs, I had to "simplify the battlefield" and make rapid-fire decisions that had life-and-death consequences.
I developed a simple but powerful model to enable a fast course of action. The model uses the acronym, PROP, as in "prop up decisions."
First, define your top Priorities, such as "get cash positive."
Next, outline the Realities you face, such as limited resources or timeline.
Then, based on your priorities and realities, consider the most plausible Options available, such as to cut staffing or offer a deep discount. One option will typically be the obvious choice, but I often rank them with select criteria to make sure.
Finally, choose the best option as your Path forward. Execute that immediately with a simple plan and shift fire as you meet the next set of realities. Keep things simple with this tool and you'll stay on target!
2. Get comfortable with the cost of deciding
Understand that refusing to decide is a decision — it's a decision to continue with the way things are.
When you're stuck, ask yourself the big question: "Are you going to continue with the status quo or move forward?"
All decisions have an associated cost. Indecision indicates one of three things: fear, concern over past mistakes, or a lack of information.
When I decided to move my business and life from California to Miami, I had to decide if the cost of moving was worth it.
I'd never lived in Florida before — it was an unknown. Whenever you don't know something, there is an element of fear. But the cost of staying in California — with its outrageous income tax — was far worse than the fear of not knowing how my life and business would look 2,500 miles away.
3. Control your emotions
Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses, who has built an eight-figure online empire
In a book called "Wharton on Making Decisions," one of the interesting takeaways from their research is the more important a decision, the more emotional you get.
But it should be the exact opposite. The more important a decision is, the more you should think it through logically and rationally. So, the average person gets it completely backward.
For example, you should use emotion in deciding what movie to see Friday night or what restaurant to eat at. With simple things, there are no long-term repercussions of making an emotional decision that turns out to be a mistake.
But when it comes to big decisions, like what product to launch, whether to sell your business, or whether to hold it, you have to become more like a robot. Sometimes I try to convince myself to become a cyborg: half human (emotional) and half machine (unemotional).
4. Understand that logical decisions have a secret emotional component
Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
During law school, I clerked for a New York Supreme Court Judge. There, I realized: people often think they're making logical decisions; in reality, they make emotional decisions and try to rationalize with logic.
I watched as both sides to a lawsuit truly believed they were right; their lawyers passionately torpedoed logical arguments to back up an emotionally-driven situation.
I noticed this decision-making pattern in other areas of life, such as when people purchase exotic cars for supposed "investment value," when there are more logically sound ways to invest funds.
Later, I learned a simple yet effective three-part formula for decision making you can use for virtually any scenario. And it balances logic with emotion.
When making a decision, ask yourself: one, what's the upside? Two, what's the downside? And most importantly, three: can I live with the downside?
Most people face trouble because their emotions take control and cause them to overestimate the upside, underestimate the downside, and never even consider if they can live with the downside.
5. Know what you want
Business success comes from knowing your desired outcome. You need a laser-beam focus on what you want to create. Never lose sight of your target or goal.
When making decisions, ask, "Is this getting me closer to my goals? Is it taking me away from my goals?" Discard everything that's taking you away from your goals.
You also need to work on your beliefs and mindset to approach your mission fearlessly. Other people may have failed on a similar path or not dared to venture where you're going. Fix this. Weak thoughts create weak outcomes. Don't be swayed by any limitations people try to put on you. Winning is an option.
6. Say no
I say no by default to everything outside my core focus because it won't impact my major professional goal: Create 100 seven-figure students by the end of 2018.
When something comes along that's aligned with my goals, I ask myself: What's the worst case scenario? What's the upside? What does my gut tell me?
A big personal decision was moving my family from Michigan to Florida. We'd always wanted to move interstate but put it off as something to do much later in life.
I knew the upside would be a better lifestyle. Plus, a major change of scene can shed old habits. It turned out to be the best possible decision personally and professionally.
7. Build a filter system
Every decision I make should benefit not just me, but everything I'm responsible for. So I run my decision making through three filters:
- Does it impact my family and me in an ethical, moral, and positive way?
- Does it help my businesses and their growth plans?
- Does it benefit my employees?
If any decision meets the three filters, I proceed quickly. If it doesn't, I analyze it further and usually don't proceed.
Without a filter system, you'll only analyze decisions one sided. With a filter system, you'll make the right moves — even if it takes longer and is less attractive.
Give yourself some filters to run decisions through and stick to them no matter what. If something you "want" doesn't meet all your prerequisites, it's probably not a good move.
8. Proximity is Power
Moshe Malamud, founder and CEO of M2Jets
Business mastery begins with developing principals you can rely on during times of adversity and opportunity. However, a larger part of your success can be attributed to the people you surround yourself with and the insight they provide.
I've always kept close relationships with top business leaders in all industries. Thus, no one experience creates the byproduct for all business psychology; it's a culmination of multiple experiences that truly shapes your insight in the decision-making process.
Prior to starting M2Jets, I had limited expertise in private aviation and had many questions: Where can I purchase an aircraft for a great price? What are the operating expenses? And so forth. It was discussions with trusted colleagues that armed me with the necessary knowledge to purchase my first aircraft.
Through trial and error, gaining experience, and creating a client-focused culture with a good team of industry professionals, I've been able to succeed in a competitive industry with little prior operating experience.
Connect with M2Jets on Instagram
9. Do your homework
Don't make decisions based solely on emotions and gut instinct. Do as much due diligence as you can, and the rest will be intuitive.
Outsiders also bring fresh perspectives. So, when facing a difficult decision, I always seek the advice of two to four trusted people with more experience or subject-matter expertise than me.
After seeking counsel, I'll go for a run at the end of the day or the next morning to be alone with my thoughts. Then I'll usually make the decision before the end of the run. That's because I've worked hard to gather the facts, which paint a clear picture in my mind.
10. Build an A-Team
It would be foolish to believe our company's success was achieved from only my wise choices. Instead, the vast majority of reasons Crimcheck has continually grown and has reached the Inc. 5000 list is because of our awesome team. They deserve all the credit.
When I make decisions, I gather all the necessary people in the room and seek their valued input, insight, and perspective. I surround myself with people smarter than me and tremendously skilled in their area of expertise. Consequently, we leverage each other's gifts and compound our strengths as a team.
11. Develop wisdom
The right decisions bring rewards — the job, money, satisfaction. The reward of bad decisions is "experience," which has little value by itself.
But you can transform experience into wisdom by digging into bad choices to understand what you can do better. This takes humility.
Wisdom helps you understand the difference between non-important, reversible decisions and momentous, irreversible decisions. You can then permit yourself to take bold, informed risks and make mistakes.
Fear of failure goes hand in hand with slow, conservative decision making that can squelch innovative ideas.
Recently, an employee wanted to capitalize the Internet of Things (IoT) through a colored bulb in a standard desk lamp.
Some people thought the idea was insane. But the employee sold us on the idea. It became a critical product enhancement used by several clients and helped establish Sisense as a pioneer in this space.
Want to share your insights like those above in a future column? If you're an experienced entrepreneur, please get in touch here.
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