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leadership and decision making

How to overcome indecisiveness ??

When I was sailing as a Captain, one of the key skills I developed was quick decision making
..Whether changing the route of the ship to avoid a rapidly developing storm ahead
..Whether it was maneuvering the ship in narrow waters to avoid an imminent collision
..And many such real-life and rapidly changing situations out at sea
Speed of decision making was key, since it involved safety of the people onboard and safety of the ship itself as an asset
Sometimes, the decisions were based on data and at other times, based on intuition
Either ways, indecisiveness was NOT an option
Which is where I find most people struggle today
From simple decisions such as what to eat to more important decisions such as making a career move, 

People remain confused and in a state of indecisiveness way too long
You see….
Most people are afraid that they will make a bad decision. You want to be 100% sure of success, before you decide something
But what you forget is that….
Decisions are never good or bad. Decisions are simply decisions
It is the impact of those decisions which make them seem good or bad
Sometimes, you do not have enough time. Sometimes, you may not have enough information
But in almost all cases, you make decisions based on the best available information on hand at that point in time, right ?
That is really important to understand
Of course, hindsight will always be 20/20 and if you had more time and information, maybe your decisions in specific situations could be different
But the bottom line is….
Whether is it business or personal life, you will almost never have enough time and information to take the “best” decision
And that leads to my discussion today....
Indecisiveness is probably one of the biggest reasons of failure
Actually, more than taking the decision itself, you are sometimes not willing to take the accountability of those decisions
What happens if things do not go the way you had thought ? 

Whom will you blame ?
And this is where highly successful people really stand out

They make powerful decisions and take actions
They own them completely – the consequences, the accountability
And they learn from every decision
So if you struggle to make decisions generally or there is a decision you are holding back currently, here are 6 powerful questions I have created, 

which can help you overcome indecisiveness or inaction
Q1. Is the decision important to you or not ?
This might seem to be a stupid question, but believe me, it is an important one
Because if you do not feel it is important, then you will sit on it forever
Let us take an example….
Say it is morning 9 am and you just had your breakfast
Now you need to decide what to have for lunch
Because you are not feeling hungry, this is not an important decision
However, as time passes and you inch closer to mid-day, that decision assumes more priority, right ?
If the decision is not important to you, then why worry about it at all ?
But if you deem it to be an important decision, then time sensitivity is one aspect to consider
The  other is the impact, hence the next question….
Q2. What is the cost of NOT taking the decision ?
This is a really powerful question. Most of the time, you are actually not aware of the full cost of NOT taking a decision
Let us say you are stuck in a dead-end job
You want to quit but you are not sure whether the next job will be better than your current job
You are confused and not able to decide
What you are not realizing is that there is a huge cost you are paying by not taking that decision

Remaining in that job means you are probably highly demotivated – it sucks up all your energy, you are not enjoying any more
All this can take a huge toll on you. Stress and anxiety may start impacting other areas of your life as well
And the more you stay in that job, chances are that things will get bad to worse
You see….
You are paying a huge cost of indecisiveness in such a case

So whatever decision you are procrastinating today, think about the cost. Both in short term and long term

Also, think about the cost in terms of tangible as well as non-tangible ways
The other way to think about it is this - what will happen if you do not decide ?
And this leads to the next question….
Q3. How long can you afford NOT taking the decision ?
This question is in a way, linked to both the above questions
But it highlights how long can you adjust with the current situation
Let us take the previous example again – you being stuck in a dead-end job
In such a case, what will happen with time is that your performance and productivity will continue to get impacted negatively
It might reach a point that your job is at risk due to your non-performance
At the same time, your stress levels will increase, impacting your health and mental wellbeing
And eventually, you might reach a stage where you cannot handle it any more and you may experience a breakdown
So the decision to go for another job can be postponed to a few weeks or at best, to a few months, right ?
Once you are aware of the cost and time criticality, then what you need to figure out is what will it take for you to make the decision
Q4. Do you need more information that can help you decide ?
Sometimes, you may need to do some more research or talk to people before you decide
And that is ok, but recognizing the need and planning for it is important
Taking action which can help you make that decision is the key. Setting a timeline to take that action is equally important

Let us say you are evaluating 2 job offers :
One is from a large multinational company, the salary is good but the job profile is a bit junior, considering your experience
The other offer is from a smaller company, the salary is ok but the job profile is fairly senior
Now you are in 2 minds – which offer to accept ?
This is a classical case where you may need more information to evaluate the offers

Maybe talk to a few people in both companies to get a sense of how things are or do some background research on the industries or talk to your mentor
Also, job offers are time sensitive, so you have to take a call within a specific timeframe
So if you need more information before you can make a decision, ask yourself this question :
Where can I get ( or who can give me ) the information and within what time frame ?
Q5. Do you need more time that can help you decide ? If yes, how much time ?
Sometimes, you may need more time before making a decision
Which is OK at times, but the most important question to ask yourself in such a case is this…
What do you hope to achieve during that time ?
Will you actually do something which can help you make the decision or are you simply buying time?
Let me give a real example from last week :
I had a discovery call with a prospective client
He was struggling in some specific professional area and thought coaching might help him
We discussed in detail and then, I shared with him the details of my coaching package
His immediate reaction was that its very expensive and he will have to think about it, so he needs more time
And I asked him specifically one question “What will you do with more time?”
His responses seemed more of excuses, and it was clear to me that he was simply buying time
It was also clear to me that he was not ready to invest in coaching at this point, even though I knew coaching could help him
I instinctively knew that he will sit on it for a few days and then nothing will happen - he will neither say yes nor say no
So I actually said NO to him on the call and invited him to connect back when he felt he was truly ready and committed for getting coached
Bottom line….
If you need more time to make a decision, think of what exactly you will accomplish during that time that can help you move ahead
And the last question is….
Q6. Are you willing to take the responsibility and accountability of your decision ?
This is where many people get stuck
Sometimes, you know what is the right decision for you, but you are not ready to take the accountability, should things not go your way
So you procrastinate, hoping for someone else to step in and decide for you
Which does not happen in most cases

The outcomes you get in life are based on the decisions and actions you take ( or do not take )
Not doing anything about your situation, not taking decision can be a really expensive mistake
You will remain where you are
Nothing will change for you

And yes, not every decision you make will work in your favour
But that is ok, since it will provide you a learning opportunity 

But the key is to make decisions - that gives you a sense of freedom

I am recapping the six questions again :
Q1. Is the decision important to you or not ?
Q2. What is the cost of NOT taking the decision ?
Q3. How long can you afford NOT taking the decision ?
Q4. Do you need more information that can help you decide ? Where can you get the information and within what time frame ?
Q5. Do you need more time that can help you decide ? More importantly, what will you do in that extra time which can help make the decision ?
Q6. Are you willing to take the responsibility and accountability of your decision ?
Hopefully this framework helps you overcome indecisiveness and helps you to take powerful decisions to move ahead in life
I would be interested to know what came up for you, as you read and reflected on this article


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