The number one reason for not accomplishing success in life is indecision and procrastination. This is exactly why the ability to make decisions is a critical attribute of most successful business people. But, how do successful leaders avoid common decision traps of “analysis paralysis”, or fear of making the WRONG decision which can result in NO decision at all?
Napoleon Hill had a lot to say about decision-making and considered it one of the primary keys to success. Decision Making is Hill’s 7th Principle of Success, and as he clearly stated, “The man of decision cannot be stopped! The man of indecision cannot be started! Take your own choice.”
We have all likely suffered from analysis paralysis at some point or another. Fear of making the WRONG decision can stop us dead in our tracks. And yet, at times like this, it may be helpful to consider that there are few decisions that are truly irreversible. If you later learn that you made a wrong decision, you can usually take corrective action to rectify the situation and move on. After all, we can only make decisions based on the information we have at a given moment in time, and we must do our best with that data to make an informed choice.
However, if the passage of time reveals additional information to add to the equation, simply analyze that information as it comes, and adjust course as needed. Do not let the “what if’s” of tomorrow keep you from making decisions today. You simply MUST be able to make decisions to move forward in business and in life.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do isnothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt
It is clear…decision-making skills are critical to one’s success in life. To transform your own desire into money, you must develop good decision-making skills and habits. Through his research and analysis, Napoleon Hill learned that hundreds of self-made millionaires shared the following two critical decision-making traits:
- They were in the habit of reaching decisions promptly.
- They changed decisions slowly, if and when the decision were changed at all.
In fact, after interviewing 25,000 people rated as “failures” to determine the reasons for their lack of success, Napoleon Hill discovered ‘lack of decision-making’ was at the top of the list. Indecision is a decision in itself. It doesn’t take long to realize that it is better to make a bad decision than to make no decision at all.
- People unwilling to make decisions are what Hill called “drifters”, unlikely to achieve any significant success in life.
- Failing to make decisions at all, or taking a prolonged time to make decisions will thwart most successful endeavors.
- And, as we have likely seen with our own eyes, changing one’s mind quickly or often can also lead to failure.
Hill also cautioned us to not be easily influenced by the opinions of others, or we will find ourselves changing course frequently – because, after all… everyone has an opinion. If you are going to be constantly swayed and influenced by others’ opinions when you reach decisions, you will not succeed in any endeavor in life. You must remain focused on what Napoleon Hill called your Definite Purpose in life and let nothing sway you or hold you back.
“Reach your own decisions. Take no one into your confidence except the members of your “Master Mind” group and be very sure in your selection of this group, that you choose only those that will be in complete sympathy and harmony with your purpose.” – Napoleon Hill
Through his research, Hill determined that if you need facts or information from other people to enable you to reach a decision (as you often will), it is best to acquire these facts or secure the information you need quietly, without disclosing your purpose. Keep your eyes and ears wide open – and your mouth closed – if you wish to acquire the habit of prompt decision.
When it comes to decision-making, Hill taught us:
- Definiteness of decision always requires courage– sometimes very great courage.
- As a matter of fact, the value of a decision depends upon the courage that was required to render it.
- Financial independence, riches, desirable business, and professional positions are not within reach of the person that neglects, or refuses, to expect, demand and plan these things.
- Leaders in all walks of life decide quickly and firmly – they know what they want and they generally get it.
- Being decisive enables you to become the master of procrastination, preventing it from ruling your daily life.
“The world has a way of making room for the person whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.” – Napoleon Hill
In summary, remember to make informed decisions promptly, but do not change your decisions frequently or quickly. Mastering the nuances of good decision-making skills requires time and practice, but the rewards can be great. To better assist you, let’s review some practical tips to help improve your own decision-making process.
The following five tips are from Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2011 article by Scott Halford entitled, “Five Tips for Making Better Decisions”. Carefully note which of these may pose personal challenges for you and begin working to make improvements in those areas:
- Stop seeking perfection. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Instead of seeking the impossible, efficient decision makers tend to leap without all the answers and trust that they’ll be able to build their wings on the way down.
- Be independent. Good decision-makers are “collaboratively independent.” They tend to surround themselves with the best and brightest and ask pointed questions. For instance, in a discussion with subject-matter experts, they don’t ask: “What should I do?” Rather, their query is: “What’s your thinking on this?” Get your information from credible sources and then act, swiftly.
- Turn your brain off. Insight comes when you least expect it. By simply turning your mind off for a while or even switching to a different dilemma, you’ll give your brain the opportunity to scan its data bank for information that is already stored and waiting to be retrieved.
- Don’t problem solve, decide. A decision can solve a problem, but not every problem can be solved by making a decision. Instead, decision-making often relies more on intuition than analysis. Deciding between vendors, for instance, requires examining historical data, references and prices. But the tipping point often rests with your gut. Which feels like the right choice?
- Admit your mistakes. If your feelings steered you wrong, correct the error and fess up. Even making the wrong decision will garner more respect and loyalty when you admit you’ve made a mistake and resolve it, than if you are habitually indecisive.