Tag Archives: decision-making

Decision Making – It’s Never Perfect

It has been almost 10 years since the below was first uttered.  Yet I am confident that the quote and its source will generate immediate reaction.  Most never saw the wisdom of the words, for it was lost in the emotions surrounding the context and that moment in time. But removed from the moment and the emotions it generated, the words ring true.  They are actually something we should all remember.

Never will anyone have all the information…ever. It is not possible. Hiring someone, changing jobs, investing, getting married, moving, choosing schools, chicken or fish, chocolate or vanilla, or any of the other large or small decisions in life are never made in the context of certainty. We might think they are, but never are they.  In making any decision, some degree of mistakes will be made.  Sometimes large, often small, and at times not even known, but the errors are in there somewhere.  We do all that we can to avoid them, but there is an inherent degree of risk.

And with that, I share a moment from February 2002.  It will be interesting to see how quickly I am blasted for using a line from that (insert your choice of adjectives here).

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

Maybe, just maybe everyone can put aside their emotions and think about the words.  It is something we should all remember when making decisions.  So blast away at the source, the context, and the events that followed, but heed the words…they are true regardless of the situation.


Filed under Business, Coaching, Interviewing, leadership

Making Choices

Citizenship.  The Swearing In Ceremony.  The Oath.  It really is something everyone should see.  Especially those of us who by the fate of birth found ourself a citizen of the United States.  It is a stark and humbling reminder of the lengths people will go to earn what is for many of us a “birth right”.   Above all, it is a room full of people making a choice – a very public and life altering choice.  A choice that is the capstone of an entire life journey full of choices.  The stories in that room had to be amazing.  You could literally see it on the faces – pride, relief, joy, accomplishment.  It was all there.

Something that is taken for granted by so many is so coveted and treasured by others.  It is the stuff of timeless tales.  It is also a much-needed reminder of the gift I was given by my birth, as well as the choices I made every single time I raised my hand to take an oath to serve.  Maybe it is the wisdom that comes with age, but it seems to mean more now.  I am grateful for the reminder to not take things for granted…especially this time of year.

Several generations back some ancestors of mine made a choice – a hard and gut wrenching choice to quite literally bet it all.  They left behind all that was known and jump into the abyss of uncertainty.  But that choice was made based on the promise of what could be, and a core belief that they would make it.  They chose a course…they did not rely on a course that was chosen for them.

I was extremely fortunate to witness some great friends taking their oath of citizenship recently, and I am better for it.  I was reminded of the great fortune to be born a citizen of this country, to have the opportunities afforded me by being a citizen, and above all the freedom to choose.  Those people taking the oath chose to be there.  They loved their choice.  They wanted to be there.  The chance to make choices is arguably one of the greatest gifts granted by freedom.  Making choices, owning those choices, and just having the chance to choose – amazing gifts that are all too often taken for granted – and all too often squandered.


Filed under Coaching

Leadership and Decision Making

Politics and personal feelings aside, there is no question George W. Bush’s Decision Points is worth reading. Yes, a sentence with something positive and “W” together – not something that was seen too terribly often over the last several years.  It is frankly “easy to read”.  It covers a period which we all have quite vivid memories of while addressing some very real events – 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, Afghanistan, the elections of 2000 and 2004 and a variety of other topics.  It does not preach, defend or pontificate – it just is.  However, at its core the book is about making decisions.

Making decisions is absolutely one of the key components of leadership, yet it is something that is all too often overlooked. There are countless books, seminars, training programs and experts who espouse on such catchy leadership themes as “empowering”, “inspiring”, or “mentoring” yet very few ever discuss the reality that leaders must make decisions.   There is no stopping events…things as they say, will happen with or without decisions being made.  By their very nature, decisions are quite often difficult, divisive, and leave at least someone feeling left out or disregarded.  But make no mistake – leaders have to make decisions.

Decision Points is actually an easy read – it flows, it does not get bogged down in wordy prose or an attempt to polish history. It discusses in often frank terms the reality of making decisions. Decisions often based on less than perfect information, in a very stressful situation, in which there is no easy answer. Yet decisions had to be made, and in the end only one person could make the decision. That one person happened to be the President.  He was, like it or not, the leader.

It is a harsh and true reminder to all – leaders have to make decisions.  It will not be easy, not everyone will be happy, the information will not be perfect, and the results will likely not be exactly what you want, but decisions have to be made.  They can be avoided, made by committee, put-off, or maybe even delegated, but in the end a decision will be made.  Events will continue to evolve.  Leadership is about a lot of things, and one of them is decision-making.  And like many of the facets of leadership, decision-making is a lonely thing.  Leaders own their decisions, and even their lack of decisions…ultimately.

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Filed under Coaching, Current affairs, leadership, Politics