We are all faced with tough decisions on a regular basis
where we could go left, right, stop or my personal favorite, plowing full speed
ahead. It’s easy to get discouraged and second guess yourself when you
are faced with criticism, pessimism or somebody trying to manipulate or strong
arm you. We all try our best to make the best decisions possible and mitigate as
much risk as we can. But let’s be honest, most of us are just making the best
call we can with the information available to us at the time and hoping and
praying that things will turn out ok.
I will never forget one of the best decision making tools I
was ever given. I was in the midst of first phase in SEAL training.
We were cold, exhausted and being pushed to our physical and mental
limits every day. Our instructors were brilliant in how they applied the
pressure. The majority of our evolutions were not individual challenges
but challenges designed to foster team work and thinking outside the box.
They would regularly inject problems into the physical evolutions to see
who could be cerebral and think while executing the physical mission. We
were taught; A GOOD DECISION NOW, IS BETTER THAN A GREAT DECISION LATER.
They had seen this play out in war. Too many leaders get
“analysis paralysis” and try to plan and mitigate everything when the
clock is ticking. By the time these leaders have their perfect decision
or plan ready to execute, it is often too late. The enemy or competition has
made a good decision early on and is now flanking or outmaneuvering the team
that took their time to formulate the “perfect plan.”
I had to make a very difficult decision yesterday that had
real potential to start a shit storm with one my biggest partners. I had
to back out of a deal that he had been working on for close to 2 years.
This was a very difficult decision to make. It was a deal that
could have offered us a tremendous amount of exposure and also ensured a large
donation to one of my favorite charities. Although those are both really
great reasons to proceed, the negatives to the deal far outweighed them both.
As I grow older and I continue to gain more experience from
wins and losses I am learning to be much more in tune with my instincts.
I am much more consciences of my “spidey senses” or the feeling we all
get in our stomachs when things just don’t feel right. Acknowledging
these feelings for what they are and then making decisions congruent with them
can be difficult. Especially when those decisions are in absolute
opposition to our goals and plans. After we got over the shock and awe of
this amazing opportunity to finally close this deal and began learning the
terms, we all started getting the same feelings of uneasiness and concern.
You see, the deal was very one sided and there really wasn’t much room
for negotiation. We were definitely the “little guy” on this
one and the more we learned about this deal, the less we liked it. I
tried staying positive and focusing on the positives but the further down the
rabbit hole we went the more obvious it was becoming to us all that maybe, just
maybe this wasn’t a good move for our company.
Yesterday morning after learning another
“negative” aspect of the deal my struggle to remain optimistic
finally reached a level of, “this is just ridiculous.” I had no
choice but to reach out to my partner and lay out a point by point case of why
this was a bad deal for us. This was not something I took lightly, at
all. This particular partner is a “big deal,” someone you don’t want to
disrespect or disappoint. He had been using his position and made
multiple attempts to leverage an opening for a very long time to get us access
to this opportunity. For that reason, I was very relieved when I heard
back from him that he would not be disappointed in us if we pulled out. I
felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my back. I also felt that I
had made the right decision though we would miss out on the exposure, great
charitable gift, and also possibly never having this opportunity again.
Looking back, I don’t regret the decision one bit. I feel fortunate
for my partners understanding, the support and guidance of my team and my God
given instinct to guide me in making large decisions that can have a very
serious impact on our futures.
It’s pretty easy to do the right thing and make the right
decision when it’s a cut and dry, black and white issue at hand. It’s a completely
different issue when it’s a very dynamic and complicated deal full of unknowns
and uncertainty. I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t for see the
future. For that very reason I do a lot of praying, I ask for guidance,
wisdom and direction on a daily basis. I know, I know, it’s not the
formula or decision making algorithm that most are seeking. I have found
that it works for me and that is why I will keep looking up, when I’m over my
head and outside of my comfort zone. Whether you give prayer a shot or
not, it’s always good to go with your gut. This is just one more example
of a situation where my gut served me well. The feelings of “this
isn’t right, this is bad, abort, abort, abort” kept growing louder and louder
in my stomach and in my head. For the record, my gut instinct does not always
bat a 100%. There has been many times where I have been caught with my
pants down or “didn’t see that one coming.” Overall, the times
my instinct was right on the money far outweighs the times where I was dead
wrong. So, as I move forward with my business, my family and my passions
I will continue to put a lot of stock in my gut and my instincts and always
remember, a good decision now is better than a great decision later.