The One Essential Habit of Every Effective Leader

This is a guest post by Jeff Goins. Jeff is a writer who works for Adventures in Missions. You can follow him on Twitter and download a free copy of his eBook The Writer’s Manifesto. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

I once heard Dave Ramsey share the secret to his effective leadership and decision-making strategy: ”I make a decision, and if it’s the wrong one, I make another one.”

Standing Man with Two Choices - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/eyetoeyePIX, Image #17906987

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/eyetoeyePIX

Here was my thought process in reaction to that statement:

  • That’s ludicrous.
  • That’s reckless. 
  • That’s… genius.

At the time, Dave knew something about leadership that I was just beginning to learn: Great leaders are effective, not because they know all the answers, but because they have the tenacity to act. Leadership, as it turns out, is really the act of making intentional decisions and accepting responsibility for them.
 
I always loved that biblical story of Joshua, who stood before his fellow countrymen at a crossroads in his nation’s history and admonished them to “choose this day whom you will serve…” Joshua knew, as all great leaders know, that life is about intentional choices. And the failure to make a decision is, in fact, a choice in itself.

The word decide in its Latin root literally means, “to cut off.” In our culture, nobody wants to cut off anything. We are rife with procrastination. In fact, in some cases we reward it. While there’s nothing wrong with 80 percent off a plane ticket to Cabo San Lucas, this is telling of how we make (or rather, don’t make) decisions.

Many organizations have a decision-deficiency syndrome. We have leaders who hesitate. They waffle and wait, hoping for a better opportunity. Let’s be honest: you and I do this, as well. And it’s killing our leadership.

If you want to be a better leader, resolve to be a better decision-maker. It will revolutionize your organization, inspire your team, and liberate you from the constant worry of the possibility of a better opportunity coming along.

Here are three scenarios in which you should make a decision right now:

  1. You don’t need more information. You have everything you need to know to make the right decision. Sure, more information could make itself available if you wait, but if you’re honest, you don’t need it. You have the essentials, and nothing monumental would change that.
  2. More information won’t come. Sometimes, you’re just stalling. In fact, most of the time, this is the case. We’re afraid of consequences, criticism, or failure. So we hesitate. But really, this is just wasting time.
  3. Something will suffer if you wait. More information might present itself, but the cost of waiting is greater than the cost of acting now and paying the consequences later. Your hesitation may be distracting you or keeping you from other work or simply frustrating your colleagues.

You can’t do this with every decision, but you can probably do it with more than you realize. Most indecisiveness comes from fear. It’s time to move beyond that and become the leader you were meant to be.

Something shifts in your paradigm when you resolve to be more decisive. You stop letting yourself be ruled by anxiety and apprehension. You become bolder and more confident. At first, it may seem scary, but this is the key to being a leader worth following.

Sure, you will occasionally make the wrong choice, but you will never have to be afraid again. You will never catch yourself, waiting for more information that isn’t necessary to making a difference today. 

It’s time to decide.

Question: What’s one decision you’ve been putting off? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    Thanks Jeff, great post!  I also took a look at your blog and I liked it…especially the Luke Skywalker quote!

    I am guilty.  I was told in a 360 degree assessment to be willing to take more risk and to decide quicker.  I have been working on it and I think your advice is on target.  

    I would add that there are times when you cannot make another decision immediately.  Maybe there will not be enough quick feedback to let you know if it was the best choice or not.  In these cases you just need to decide and then make that decision be the best one.  

    We often think one option must be the good one and by default, the other choice must be the bad one.  Instead, it is frequently the case that both options can end up being good (or great) choices.  It is also up to us as to how we commit to our decisions (burn the ships) that determines the outcome!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! Thanks (re: Luke Skywalker).

      You are right, Chris. Not all decisions can be made quickly. But many can. In my experience, most decisions I face on a daily basis fit into one of the above scenarios. Of course, I’m not a neurosurgeon or an air traffic controller. Meaning, people don’t die if I make the wrong decision. But I have heard that even those people don’t have much liberty to wait. An good decision now is often better than a great decision later.

      • Bonnie Clark

        …or often, a good decision now is better than no decision now (which would often be the case for neurosurgeons and ATC).

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          right.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        My biggest point of indecision is what to do with the stuff in my email inbox. :-)

      • Anonymous

        I’ve tried in vain to find the Luke Skywalker quote.  

        • Anonymous

          Never mind. Saw your response to an earlier post. Sympathetically yours. Many used to tell me that I look like Nicholas Cage. I wish they would just cuss at me.

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    The article you have presented has riddled out
    intricate structure of leadership into a simple structure. Great leaders are effective, not because
    they know all the answers, but because they have the tenacity to act.

    Thanks for sharing it in such a delightful manner..!
     

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I love how simple Dave Ramsey’s secret to leadership is.

    I have been known to say something very similar to Dave. Often, I have had to tell people to “Just choose” letting them know that THIS choice will rarely be the thing that kills or damages them beyond repair.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yeah, he’s kind of a simple guy. Which makes it hard for guys like me who want to muddy the waters, because I’m afraid of consequences. Thanks for your comment, Joe. Sounds like you have the right idea here.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Thanks for the post, Jeff.  I once heard a CEO say that if he makes the right decision 70% of the time, then he would be really pleased with himself.  I remember thinking at the time, “That’s not even a B!” (I was in school then).  We want to be perfect as leaders, to get that “A,” but decisions move our organizations in the right direction.  If we make some bad decisions along the way, we can correct them with good ones later.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s right, Robert. As a leader, this has been the most empowering realization for me. Bad decisions can be corrected.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I really like how you point out the consequences of inaction. Part of the issue in procrastination is that the pain we feel for acting is felt now, and the pain we feel if we don’t act is felt much later. That leads us to overestimate and over-react to one and ignore the other.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re right, Loren. I am terrible at procrastination, but it’s because I believe (foolishly) that the outcome will be the same no matter what. It won’t be. I need to realize there is a cost in waiting. Sometimes, it’s worth it. But in my experience, this is rarely the case.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Good point! There will be consequences either way.

  • Jeff Kusner

    want proof? look at washington dc, nough said!… thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Jeff. Sad but true.

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    I’ve always loved your writing Jeff, but I’m sure you know that from my interaction on your blog, congrats on guest posting on this blog! As far as the post, I believe a Seth Godin quote sums it up
    pretty good, “you don’t need more time, you just need to decide” Seth Godin.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yep. Love that. Seth has been instrumental in the formation of some of these thoughts. Thanks, Kimanzi.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Kimanzi, I like that Seth Godin quote. Never heard it before. I’m going to snag it for future reference!

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        Yeah, it’s a great quote. I’m really enjoying reading your blog

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Thanks Kimanzi.

          Your blog has been a pleasure to read also. You really got me thinking about Plan B, C, D, and E.

          • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

            I’ve been working on C all weekend!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That quote goes great with this post. There are a couple things that I need to decide on now. Blocked out some time today just for that.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        The quote got me to because there were things I was procasitnating on using the excuse I needed more time to time!Hope you get those things figured out!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I’m not sure if I should weigh in here or not. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Take your time… ;)

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      It took me a minute to realize what you did! Funny.

  • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

    Great post. I get so burdened with fear of failure it seems I’ve learned to not even try, so I never really fail. “Intentional leadership” is a great way to think about it. I’ve been putting off blogging more because no one would read it, I’m not sure of the topic, etc. Being intentional would be to take action and change course as needed after I see the results of my action. Thanks Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure, Sutton. That’s a common one. Here’s my thought on that dilemma: When people say they want to do something and don’t, they are either lying or stalling. Neither is healthy nor productive. Being intentional is key.

  • Pingback: Nobody Changed the World by Being Indecisive | Goins, Writer()

  • http://allthingsloss.com Kevin Mackesy

    I’m sure we’ve all seen this Teddy Roosevelt quote before, but it fits perfectly with Jeff’s post and is just ridiculously motivating: “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.  So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Excellent, Kevin. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that is a wonderful Theodore Roosevelt quote. Thanks.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Good call on the Roosevelt quote!

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    Keep moving–without movement, it’s impossible to make progress. Sometimes just making a decision is more important than making the “right” decision. In this world, decisions are often just starting points, and very few of those decisions land in the “once and for all” category. To put it in the terms of writing, most of the time, we can reserve the right to edit our decisions and make them better. Personally, realizing I have the option to edit makes it easier to decide and move on.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Great analogy, Patricia. The important part is not getting it perfect; it’s getting it down on paper. I completely agree. You can almost always tweak as you go.

  • Terismez

    Leaving a secure job in this economic climate is taking a big risk. I have outgrown my job and a dept transfer is very difficult. My employer has been cutting back so there are not many openings. I have been procrastinating on making a job change but I am now taking steps to make the change. I have always known that I have a book inside but did nothing to get it out. I now know what the topic will be about so I can now start the steps to writing this book.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love that you’re taking steps forward! Once you commit to being more decisive, it gets easier. You feel empowered. It can be a lot of fun! (Because the anxiety of deciding eventually goes away.)

  • http://www.timemanagementninja.com Craig Jarrow

    Most people are afraid of making the wrong decision.

    However, there are very few decisions in life that cannot be changed later.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      well said, Craig. how right you are.

  • Linda M Smith

    I tried to find the Luke Skywalker quote and couldn’t.  Please direct me to the quote.  Thanks.
    Linda

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! It’s on my about page: http://goinswriter.com/about (Clarification: It’s a quote from a kid saying I LOOKED LIKE Luke.)

      • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

        Hahaha.  I just looked up the quote.  There are worse things a 4 year old could have said! That was a compliment.

      • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

        And, may the force be with you.  ;-)

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        That is awesome. Thank God he didn’t saw you looked like the Hayden Christensen Anakin Skywalker. That might have been an issue.

  • Scott Simpson

    I told a guy who was taking my place as a manager when I moved on to another organization, “People will forgive you for making the wrong decision, but they will never forgive you for making no decision.”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Ooh, that’s REALLY good, Scott. Lots of wisdom packed into that little truism there.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Excellent words to remember. Thanks, Scott, for sharing–Tom

    • http://www.facebook.com/roger.j.spence Roger J. Spence

      that is good advice Scott.

  • Anonymous

    Great thought for the day. Thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure, Ken. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.eileenknowles.com Eileen

    Great thoughts, Jeff.  I once had a boss whose favorite phrase was “nothing + nothing = nothing”  So true.  Even when we choose incorrectly and fail…we are LEARNING in the process.  Choosing something rather than remaining paralyzed by fear is always the best choice. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s another good one, Eileen. Man, the comments are just full of all kinds of wisdom today. Thanks for sharing. I really love and fully agree that failure is learning.

  • http://www.medicalaccountsolutions.com Misty Gilbert

    Absolutely a great post!  Loved it!!!  I have some decisions with regards to my business, workaholic schedule and some goals of simplifying that all need decisions made.  Appreciate the kick to get it in gear.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure, Misty. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • http://www.chadpayne.net/ Chad Payne

    Excellent and timely post.  I struggle with this.  I find that I often an guilty of “paralysis by analysis.”  You are exactly right – most of the time we don’t need more information.  We simply need the boldness to act.

    Thanks for a great article!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I battle these same tendencies, Chad. (I was preaching to myself in this post.) We should start a support group. ;)

  • Bob Holmes

    Hey Jeff,
    I see you’re here. You’ll be answering all day long;-))
    Love your Dave Ramsey quote and the “to cut off” is killer stuff.

    You got me started: Being decisive is disruptive and revolutionary. Why? Because all the other possibilities floating around, begin to dissolve before our eyes.  We move through the veil of possibilities into the clear light of our decision.

    I’m also reminded of a Zen Koan:  Two frogs are sitting on a lily pad. One frog decides to jump in.  So, how many frogs are left on the lily pad? 
    The answer is two.  Because making a decision, isn’t the same thing as acting on it. 

    Both are great posts! Thank You Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Nice, Bob. I was wondering how long it would take for this question to come around. I agree, “deciding” to act isn’t enough; you must actually do it. That’s why I like what my friend Al Pittampalli says: “You must decide TO decide.” In other words, commit. Follow through. Make it happen. Great thoughts.

  • Randy

    Trouble deciding to retire from the work I do now to save the health of my lower back problems. 1st the risks and fears are that I won’t be able to afford to retire yet and 2nd  that I won’t be able to find a new form of work that will pay the bills, attribute to my life plan and be enjoyable. I’m 54 and feel stuck about which way to go.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Sorry to hear this, Randy. Sounds like a tough place to be. Thanks for being brave and vulnerable to share.

  • Kari

    I am pretty good at making decisions and then moving forward in those decisions. For some reason, though, I am struggling with decided what platform to use for starting my “official” blog, the one that is not intended to be a hobby. I’ve rushed into decisions like this in the past and ended up causing myself more work, so I am in part trying to let experience be my teacher. Part of me wants to understand as much as possible before deciding (the perfectionist in me), and part of me just simply doesn’t want to follow the crowd (the rebellious part of me). This is not like me to delay making a decision as much as I have this one.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hi Kari. Very interesting! I actually just launched a FREE blogging tutorial on my website, which may help with this (see: http://bit.ly/intentblog). That said, my hearty recommendation would be WORDPRESS all the way. :)

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Jeff,

    You have some really excellent thoughts in here.  The first is the idea of “The Tenacity to Act.”  Too often we as individual decision makers Hedge our bets… I’m going to say yes to this but if it doesn’t work out I’ll push the blame to my staff that recommended or we can always fall back to the way we’ve always done it or some of variation of All Don’t Have to Go All In…

    One of the responding ideas that continues to draw me back to Michael’s blog in the “Intentional” concept.  Intentionally doing things… Decisions, Actions, whatever.

    Thanks for great Post.

    Ryan H.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I agree, Ryan. I love that about Mike’s blog and how he exemplifies this — not just with his words, but with his actions.

  • Garry Stafford

    Hey Jeff,

    Love Dave Ramsey. Did some volunteer gigs with him a few years ago. That guy is a “doer!” He makes decisions with confidence. He exudes confidence. And goes non-stop. 

    ***

    “Most indecisiveness comes from fear.” Absolutely. I’ve found that to be so true as I look back on my life. 

    It costs much. In the interest of avoiding rejection, doors remain unopened and then are passed up; opportunity missed. Not with all things …  but the ones that are permanently locked are the ones that are longed for the most. 

    I find that it’s not merely an elusive, indiscriminate fear of rejection. I struggle with feeling that I need to “know it all” before I move. That if I promote myself and I don’t measure up to my ideal, and what I perceive other’s expectations to be based on that, I then stay stuck. They may find out that there’s a chasm between their expectations and my expertise. 

    That maintains the need for a false front and, in turn, the fear of uncovering it. 

    Paralysis.

    I know the remedy. Just do it. Take a small step. The smallest you can. Focus on the one thing that you can do for someone else. Be yourself. 

    It can just so dang difficult to remember to fight that when the default is self-protection. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Very well said, Garry. What a gift it must have been to work with Dave.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Decision-making is such an important capability. It’s an undervalued skill not just among leaders, but also managers and staff.
    Some people, for example mountain climbers, can tell you how not having a minute-by-minute decision making capability will kill you on the mountain face.
    Lester Bittel said, ‘Good plans shape good decisions.’ A roman general is also reputed to have said, ‘In the absence of a clear plan, leadership matters’. So, we can see decision making from two sides.
    Some will tell you about a time they were indecisive and they are later pleased because the one they favored proved to have been the totally wrong one. ‘No decision was a good decision’, they will say. They discount the rest of the times they were indecisive and paid the price for it.
    So, what to do when once in a while it makes sense not decide? Be clear that’s the decision (vs. unconsciously avoiding it) and communicate to all and sundry.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Alan, this is a thoughtful comment that deserves a thoughtful reply. Here is my attempt at doing so:

      To be sure, every decision ought not be made in a moment’s notice. However, waiting should never be an option. If you’re facing an important choice, there are small decisions you can make to prepare for the larger decision. For instance, if you’re buying a house, you don’t wait until the day you want to buy and just go grab the first one you find.

      Instead, you take your time, shopping around, gathering information, usually with a timeline in mind. In other words, you decide how to decide. This is a crucial discipline for anyone and one that I’d like to grow in.

      • Ruby Brown

        Jeff this is a very insightful answer.  You show a lot of maturity for one so young. 

      • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

        Yes, deciding how to decide is really critical. I’m guessing that engineers at a nuclear plant have a process. Most organizations don’t. I think that it has to be a conscious capability and that if the leader exhibits it the rest will follow. 
        Incidentally, Seth Godin just blogged…’A decision without tradeoffs isn’t decision. The art of good decision making is looking forward to and celebrating the tradeoffs, not pretending they don’t exist.’  I see this as another way of having a conscious decision making capability. Yet another way to make it conscious is through values. 

  • Ed Going

    Jeff….I completely agree. In my experience managing large and small customer service operations, inertia takes over when imagination goes dormant.  The result is an ineffective customer facing operation and a boring place to work. 

    As a runner, I always get my best inspiration when I can just put the run on autopilot and let my imagination go wild. Trust that the universe will send you the solution if you will just be open to receiving it. 

    As Managers the best thing we can do is encourage our people to be creative and not be afraid to fail. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Sounds like you’re a great leader, Ed. I love this quote: “inertia takes over when imagination goes dormant…”

  • http://quietanthem.blogspot.com/ Renee Ronika Klug

    This is truth: “Something shifts in your paradigm when you resolve to be more decisive. You stop letting yourself be ruled by anxiety and apprehension.”

    In faith, because my husband and I needed to make a decision to stay in this town or go to another, we have decided to go. It took me all semester to resign my job, but when I did so this past Tuesday I felt lighter. Anxiety lifted.  

    Now I’m wondering what took me so long. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow. Thanks for sharing, Renee. Thanks for being brave. Thanks for deciding.

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    Two thoughts come to mind:

    1) A sculptor, who shapes the materials at hand into something else

    2) Planned obsolescence, or rather, realizing that change is constant. If we wait until a better system comes along, we’ll be waiting for a long time, never getting anywhere.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I agree, Tony. A lot of waiting is unproductive stalling.

      • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

        Hi Jeff, I have been seriously unproductively stalling on a project. It’s painful because I’m waiting for the system to work like it should, because it’s holding up my content work. I see now that I just have to block out my stuff and get something together for the developers to work with. Thanks for the Writer’s Manifesto. Another writer I know started a similar resource an community site called Writer River. I look forward to seeing the community you started take shape.

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    The decision to “just write” – I’ve been putting it off.  Your manifesto touched my heart – thanks for helping me to see what my “challenge” is…….”…writing to be read and adored…” – WHICH HAS TO STOP but I have to make that decision!  Thanks for “telling it like it is…”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Louise!

  • Pingback: Leadership Simplified | MSC West()

  • http://SignificantEncounters.com Prayzhimtoday

    Decide. To cut off.  Don’t need more infomation. Cost of waiting.
    Excellent points.
    I’ve cut off alot, but not reading Michael Hyatt or Jeff Goins.
    I have the information.
    I tend to wait too long, but I’m getting better.
    Thank you both for your daily encouragement. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure. Thanks so much!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I struggle with self-doubt, but I am learning every day to be a leader. God seems to be putting me in positions where I have to make decisions. I wonder though if there’s such a thing as being too proactive?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      There is definitely such a thing as being too impulsive. It’s a balance but a lot of people err on the side of caution.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I laughed at how you tracked your reasoning about Ramsey’s statement–ludicrous, reckless, genius. Well put. I’ve been mulling over the same idea the last few days. I touched on a similar theme in my last post (http://tnealtarver.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/when-does-inspiration-come/) and will address it again in the one I’ll post tomorrow night. The basic idea is to listen for God’s direction then act on what you hear.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That is a dangerous exercise right there, Tom. Excited to hear how it goes!

  • TruthOverfaith

    Our Savior is speaking to us!! Please click the link below for this glorious message from our Lord!!
    Thank You!

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/jesus-appears-in-a-dog-butt/

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks Jeff, great insights! I too have struggled from this bane of procrastination in decision making in my life and I am trying to discipline myself over a period of time. Gradually I am getting better at this.
    I think many times, we need to go by the best available option rather than waiting for the ideal one.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Agreed, Uma. Thanks for sharing!

  • Esgill

    I have read this over and over! thanks for sharing.  Your blog is really rich.  You seem much too young for so much wisdom.  How does that happen? Write a post on that…please.  

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! Um, thanks. I’m not sure. I guess experience with good leadership.

  • http://bestoked.blogspot.com Luke Stokes

    Great post, Jeff! I had the privilege of working with Dave for almost 4 years until recently when I made the decision to go out on my own and work on my business. Dave and I share a high “D” personality DISC profile which means it’s easy for us to make a quick decision followed by another decision if needed.

    My question for you: With that in mind, how would you recommend we lead “C” personality types? C’s need all of the details to be in perfect alignment before they can confidently move forward. For many of the reasons you mentioned here, some of them probably need to just go for it… but they are also the ones ensuring every t is crossed and every i is dotted. They take longer to process information (often finding critical details we missed). They are often the ones that feel steamrolled when a D is making quick decisions. Unfortunately, I’ve steamrolled people I’ve led because of my ease in making decisions. I want to keep that strength while still meeting the needs of the C’s around me. Any suggestions?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Great point (and question), Luke. My suggestion isn’t to force them to be impulsive. Instead, collaboratively create a decision-making rubric. Decide how you’re going to decide (and create a cultural norm for what you’ll do when you hit a roadblock). The point of the post is to identify what’s holding us back and to proactively work thru every decision.

      • http://bestoked.blogspot.com Luke Stokes

        Thanks Jeff! I love the idea of a decision-making rubric. Consistency in leadership goes a long way, especially with the C’s. :)

  • Anne Winz

    I’m doing some work with a non-profit involving a committee of volunteers. On behalf of our group leader, I sent an explaining the group’s next assignment and then set an unrealistic deadline (wrong decision). 

    The group members let me know the deadline wasn’t realistic (some whining involved). I quickly made another decision to extend the deadline. And then I made a third decision to ask the group leader if we could further discuss the assignment and then work on it in small groups during our meeting next week. After all of this, I read Jeff’s blog post. My experience this week confirmed the truth of what he has written. Making a decision, even if it’s the wrong decision, is always better than making no decision. Wrong decisions can always be re-adjusted to become better decisions. Thanks for the helpful reminder. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks for sharing, Anne, and for deciding.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    Wow, I can relate to your thought process. Fear is the biggie that holds me back from making (possibly the wrong) decisions. I need to trust myself more. 

    Will be checking out your e-book.  Thanks for sharing.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Kelly!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    The decisions needed to start getting more fit.  I dread that change.  I read more, I research more, I find out more alarming statistics.  I just don’t want to do this…

    Exactly what I needed today.  Thanks Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I deal with this, too. The trick, I think, is making small choices that build on
      each other. That’s how discipline grows. And you can’t fake yourself by thinking too much.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Yeah…  I’m taking Monday and spending the day disconnected from phone and net to refine my Life Plan.  That should help. 

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    I had put off a Bible study with my children. I thought I needed to know all the answers before beginning. What a crock!

    Preparation is important, but the real value in getting in The Word with your kids is modeling a life that seeks the Lord. There will always be questions, but why let that fear get in the way?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Great application, Ben.

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Thanks, Jeff! I appreciate your post.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant.  I’m really convicted by this.  I’ve let too much time pass on some decisions that should have been very easy.  I’ve wanted to finish a Master’s degree I started, but keep making excuses.  Yes, it will take discipline, time management and sacrifice.  But I’ve been avoiding something out of fear while saying I need to wait for a better time.  It’s not a legitimate excuse.  I’ve treated this like a decision to move to the moon or not.  Thanks, Jeff & Michael.  I needed this kick in the butt.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Jon. Thanks for reading!

  • Anonymous

    Great article.  I think that more confidence comes with time.  Time both with those direct reports and your success and failures in the decisions you make. The process of moving in a direction with a decision and then changing to adapt to the outcome gets better with experience and the number of these processes under your belt. Just do-it, and then learn from it.  Again, great article, Thanks.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Right. I think it’s more experience than time.

  • http://twitter.com/TheMentoringLdr Aaron Drake

    Great post Jeff!  I would agree with Chris also, many times we put off making decisions because we think there is only one right one.  Most leaders will tell you that at some point they made a decision that seemed to be the wrong one but in the end worked out for the best.  

    We also have a misconception that mistakes are bad.  I have made many mistakes that have taught me lessons I would not have learned otherwise.

    I would also add that as leaders we can worry about what those we are leading will think if we make a wrong decision.  In reality, people are much more concerned about honesty than perfection.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Good call on honesty. I think you’re right.

  • http://www.spencermcdonald.net Spencer McDonald

    Decisions!

    The toughest decision for me is to give up all that good food I eat. By good I mean bad. Bad tastes so good. And bad is causing me to remain chubby and fret with worry over my heath. Bad has me locked up in an epic battle with good over the right foods for the right reason. I take two steps forward and one backward. Although that is progress, it is not the best I am capable of. 

    I am resolved to take three steps forward and one back. That is incremental progress on my decision to stop being bad and start eating good. 

    Someone… throw me some words of encouragement. Throw me a reason to be good more than I am bad. Uh, related to food and exercise. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I can relate, Spencer. Decisions like that require you to trick yourself into doing the right thing (in my experience). I think it ultimately comes down to delaying short-term pleasure (eating delicious food) for long-term pleasure (feeling and looking good).

  • Carl

    Well received points.

    My well-published mentor, the late great, Anson Rainey used to tell us that we needed “the courage of imperfection!”

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I struggle with having that kind of courage. I always feel as a leader, that I need to make the perfect decision the first time. I am beginning to see that is not the case.

  • Anonymous

    Loved this post, especially the quote from Ramsey. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, Karl!

  • Anonymous

    Great post.  I find myself having to make the decision to gather necessary information in order to make the ultimate decision.  If that makes sense…

  • Bill Donahue

    Jim Collins latest work also affirms this — leaders who decide clearly, concisely and quickly tend to be right most of the time. Delayed decision-making, except for awaiting strategic or crucial facts, tends toward failure and loss of momentum. Easier to re-direct a moving object.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Bill. Is that Great by Choice? I still need to check that out.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I do not like to be wrong. In fact just to say that I don’t like it is not near strong enough. I always think I need to be making perfect decisions because I am a leader. Deep in my mind I know this is wrong but I listen to that other voice. So I gather information, and then I wait, and I gather the same information, and wait some more. Well today I have blocked out some time to make some decisions.
    Every time I read your stuff I am challenged. Thanks Jeff.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks for your honesty, Brandon. Here’s a new wait to think about it: Waiting is wrong. If you wait — in the sense of delaying and stalling the inevitable — you ARE wrong. Don’t do that. ;)

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        I really like that! Thanks!

  • Tamara Vann

    Great piece and very thought provoking! Decisions have to be made. If they’re wrong – learn from them and move on! The same goes for customer service. To build a culture that works, you have to crack a few eggs and get past some obstacles, as this video suggests:
    http://www.upyourservice.com/video-theater/five-essential-problems-to-overcome-when-building-service-culture

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Tamara.

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  • http://www.meeklabs.com meeklabs

    In other words, we need to get off our butts.  Its a lesson the best entrepreneurs take.  Make a decision, if it doesn’t work, learn from the results, make another decision and continue moving forward.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yep. Sounds like you’ve got the right idea.

  • Wsp10862

    Great article, my two partners suffer a little from indecisiveness, but for different reasons. One for fear of offending someone the decision may effect and the other for fear of upsetting some plan he has for the future. Do you have any ideas for an executive coaching seminar/retreat that I could offer up to them as continuing education. It needs to be christ centered if possible. Thanks for your weekly posts, it helps me every week. Angela Thomas says hello, I am her husband Scott

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks. Good question. Mike might have some ideas, but I would recommend John Maxwell.

  • http://www.idatix.com Samantha

    While have become pretty agile in applying this to business settings, it is in my personal life that I falter at being my own leader. I hesitate on the most insignificant decisions for the exact reasons you outline here. It is excruciatingly frustrating, but true. Yet, the times when I do pull the trigger I find that I am more content, and hopelessly optimistic so even if a ‘better deal’ did come along, I am very good at looking the other way and ignoring it :) At this time, I can honestly say there are no decisions I am putting off-I have taken care of them over the last month and it feels great!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s excellent, Samantha!

  • http://twitter.com/jamespinnick7 James Pinnick

    Wow Jeff,

    Thanks so much. GREAT POST!

    James
    Author-The Last Seven Pages
    http://www.jamespinnick.com

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, James. Appreciate it.

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  • http://markwriteswords.blogspot.com Mark Jordan Murray

    Good leaders lead with the heart of a servant and serve with the heart of a King.
    -Bill Johnson

    http://www.markwriteswords.com

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  • Madam

    commiting suicide :-)

  • http://twitter.com/ChristianCoachJ Jennie Turton

    This article was amazing! Having experienced a crossroads where I was unable to make a decision, I totally resonated with what you said about “not needing more information.” The truth was that I had all the information I needed within the first week of contemplating this decision. It took me FOUR years to actually make the decision! Wow! I realize now that people did suffer because of my procrastination and fear…many people, including me! 
    Having made it out of that season by God’s grace, I now see clearly the wear and tear I put myself through by not deciding quickly. I learned a lot from that experience of several years ago. Now, as a  christian life coach I get to help others navigate similar decisions. I’ll be using this article as a reference for some of my clients, who even now are torn about a decision they need to make. Thank you for this strong encouragement, Jeff! I’m grateful for your insight!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1419497507 Chef Tamia

    Whoa! 

    -I don’t know what else to say, so I’ll leave it with that. I love this blog!
    -Tamia

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  • http://www.the-executive-coach.co.za/ TheExecutiveCoach

    This is an excellent post! Even not making a decision, is a decision – that’s what I often say to my clients and often they never saw it that way.

  • Rachel8007

    Great article, I think the worst thing you can do in ANY situation is nothing.

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  • Leavemessage

    Great stuff! Simple, concise and to the point…. thanks

  • Joshuawannabe

    Christian leaders and Christians in general sometimes mistake having patience with the process of decisiveness. Because of that mindset, we often fail to make decisions (particularly regarding relationships and and leadership over employees). This failure to act is mistakenly viewed as a Christian virtue. That critical balance of boldness vs. patience can only be achieved with supernatural guidance. Thanks for your reminder.

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