Many years ago I heard Zig Ziglar tell the story of a young man who was replacing the retiring bank manager.
Wanting to start off right, the young man entered the office of the much older manager and asked him for advice.
“How can I succeed as a manager?” he asked.
The older man gruffly said, “Two words. Good decisions”.
The young man, somewhat puzzled, then asked, “And how will I make good decisions?”
The older man replied, “Two words. Bad decisions.”
“Then how will i know the difference?”
Good decisions are really a matter of experience. It’s like you have learned what not to do. As statistics tell us, most successful businessmen have failed or gone bankrupt at least twice.
Failure teaches you what doesn’t work. Hopefully you try to NOT repeat that failure too often.
However, if you are one who doesn’t want to learn everything the hard way, there are some guidelines that can help you make good or better decisions.
1. Get the facts. More mistakes are made, more wrong directions chosen and more failures result from inadequate information than any other reason. Whether ministry, business or personal life decisions, we just don’t ask enough questions. If someone is pushing us to decide but is hesitant to clearly answer our questions, we should step back and take another look. We must do our homework and postpone the decision until we have all the facts.
2. Take time. We should trust our intuitive sense. When we feel any discomfort about moving forward with thIs, we should think again. It is true that some people have problems making decisions and they are always hesitant to take responsibility for decisions. But assuming we are somewhat self-confident, we should pay attention to our uneasiness. When we see a stop sign in our mind, we must pay attention and stop. It may be a lack of information, too much pressure, or lack of credibility on the part of the presenter. Whatever it is, we must take some more time. Beware of ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities. They are rarely what they are made out to be.
3. Beware of too much emotion. The goal of a salesman is to get the person to buy what he is selling, whether a marriage proposal, buying a property, car or whatever. A good salesman creates desire in the buyer. Watch the emotion. Emotion blinds common sense. Decisions made predominately by emotion usually are not well thought through and are eventually regretted. The reason we fall into bad deals is we often either wanted what was being sold or we were made to want what was being sold. Emotion is wonderful but rarely helpful in decision-making. If anyone will not let us think it over for a day, we should say no.
4. Get independent input. If the decision is important, we should get a third party opinion. Someone neutral, smart, objective. What we don’t see may be seen by another. If that is not good enough, then we may get a second or third opinion. I don’t mean talking this over with our best friends. I mean someone objective who has no personal interest in this transaction. This independent input should also be prayer. God guides people. BUT- prayer will not be enough if we are emotionally involved in this decision. Your emotions will somehow mesh with your spirit and you’ll think this emotion or feeling good is God talking. If we choose to pray after we have emotionally committed, I hate to say it but prayer may be a waste of time; we’ve already made up our mind.
5. Learn from your mistakes. Some of us make the same mistake over and over. Why? We do not learn from past mistakes. It’s always good for us to evaluate our mistakes before we leave them behind. I know it’s embarrassing to talk about our mistakes and very difficult to think them over. We just want to forget it. Without some analysis on our part, we will do the same thing next time. We should consider some ways to avoid this mistake next time- and there likely will be a next time. Sometimes in a bad relationship we just want to forget that person but forgetting the person does not mean we won’t fall for exactly the same kind of person again. So we should think about what went wrong and take some steps to prevent it next time.
So good decisions are well documentable, are not rushed, are not driven by emotion and will stand up to the scrutiny of an outside party.
Don’t worry about making a few mistakes.
Do keep learning.