Have you ever made a bad decision? Did you make one yesterday? Do you somehow wish that some of the bad decisions you’ve made you could have a do-over on?
If any of those are in the affirmative, then welcome to the club of making great decisions. I want to talk a little bit about two or maybe three things that I can pull from my life on decision making. And I want to share these with you because I have a deep desire to help people make sure that they don’t make bad decisions in scenarios where they could have made a better decision.
The Impact of Making Bad Decisions
The quality of our decisions will absolutely determine and dictate the quality of our life. The worse the decision and the more impact a bad decision has, usually the more painful it is for yourself, for your spouse if you’re in a relationship, your kids potentially, people on your team and employees that you have and business partners.
I mean, you can make a bad decision in an area of health that could catch up with you and you might want a do-over there. And maybe you could get one, maybe you couldn’t. You could make an unwise investment based on an emotional trigger instead of an intellectual verification and validation. And that one bad emotional decision can haunt you for the rest of your life if it’s a really bad decision. And so decision making is like where the combination of greatness and peace of mind exists.
The 3 Filters I Use When Making Decisions
I’m not perfect at making decisions, but I will tell you that I run decisions through three filters.
The Decision Filter of Your “Why”
The first filter that I run decisions through is my “Why?” If I make this decision, or as this decision presents itself, will it allow me to amplify and accelerate why I’m doing what I’m doing in the first place?
So if my “Why?” is “I am on this earth to make a difference” and I’ve got something in front of me that requires a decision of yes or no, it could be a software investment for a company, it could be a joint venture partnership with another affinity business. It could be hiring a key executive position or slot. It could be how I approach termination. It could be any of these decisions. And I always try to angle a decision on will this accelerate and amplify my “Why?” which is making a difference. And so one of the things that I would tell you is if you are not clear on that filtering process, get clear on that first. Because when you think about why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you make a wrong decision, the very thing you’re waking up to do every day, which is your “Why?” is going to be diluted and maybe in worse case scenario, postponed indefinitely.
And I’ve had scenarios like that. And it doesn’t even always work out perfectly if you do make a decision based on your “Why?” But it is an odds-on favorite strategy to possibly, in most cases, eliminate making a bad choice. Now could end up that you make no choice. You just pump the brakes and push pause for a while. But that’s the first filter.
The Decision Filter of Importance
The second filter that I use to run decisions by, is “How important is it to______?” And then you can just fill in the blank. How important is it to my marriage? How important is it to my health? How important is it to my faith? And if it is at level eight, nine or ten, then I’m going to make the decision in favor of doing something about any one of those areas.
I’m going to give you an example of a personal experience I had in the health area of my life. About six years ago, I was diagnosed with a cancer, prostate cancer, to be specific. And if you’ve ever been given the call by the doctor that your biopsies have tested positive for cancer, and you have malignancies, then it is a hard conversation to have. I remember the first time I had that conversation. There are so many different kinds of cancers, some are more serious than others and prostate cancer is the number two killer of men in the US behind heart disease. And so it’s a big cancer, it’s a cancer that not only can kill you, but it’s a cancer based on treatments and your response to treatments that can pretty much neutralize your other two manly functions, bladder control and intimacy, are you able to do that piece of it as a guy, right?
And so it’s a big deal. And when you have a decision facing you, like I have this choice, or I have this choice, or I have this choice, or I have this choice, it can get very, very confusing. And a couple things that I want to say is, I talked to a lot of people about my diagnosis and everybody had good intent, but there were three groups: one that chose a pathway I probably wasn’t going to choose and affirmed it, one who chose a pathway that I was going to choose and affirmed it, and then a third group, which didn’t have a diagnosis, but they tried to contribute anyway. And as much as I love that third group, I put them to the side because if you’re not in the arena, as Teddy Roosevelt talks about, if you’re not battling what I’m dealing with, then as much as you want to identify with me, you can’t.
So I made it very, very clear that I wanted to talk to people that had been through this and gotten to the other side. And I ended up with two pretty separate ways to go about this. One is I could go the radiation route and the other was I could go the surgical route. And so here was the filter. How important is this in my life? And how important is this for my health? And it would be a 10, right? Anything having cancer would be a 10. And so then the second question, and this is big, which decision gives me the best odds for_______ … And you fill in the blank again.
So for me, it was like, which decision gives you the best odds for living a long life? That’s what it came down to. If I had problems going to the bathroom, or I had problems in intimacy with my wife, those were secondary, because if I were dead, then those problems wouldn’t matter anyway. And if I’m alive, then those things can be dealt with in unique, in different ways. And so which decision is the decision that would eradicate the cancer and give me the odds-on chance of having a normal life? That was the reason we chose the robotic surgery route. And six years later, for me, my story worked out not any better than I could have hoped when I made the decision with my wife, and I don’t have those side effects and I am now 100% cancer free.
So it’s a big deal when you make these decisions and you always have to kind of go to this subordinate kind of thinking, like the decision is there, but behind the decision is really where the motivation comes. And so that would be the second thing I would be talking about. And so one is the decision making based on your “Why?” The second is the decision making in order of importance to an area in your life that’s usually important to you and obviously to those around you.
The Do-Over Decision
And then the third is the do-over decision. And the do-over decision is a decision that sounds like this: “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had.” And so that’s always a filter. And so when you are faced with a decision, then it is like, okay, if I don’t make this what would be good about it and what might be bad about it? And if I do make it, what might be good about it and what might be bad about it?
And so, again, it’s not a perfect science, but my wife and I had a challenge about nine years ago, with one of our boys. And he was kind of falling by the wayside with some traumas, having lost his mom to cancer. And he turned to drugs and alcohol to kind of numb that pain. And it got really, really bad. It got really, really ugly. And we got to a point where you could ask any one of those decisions. Yes, I want to make a difference in my son’s life. Yes, on a scale of one to 10, my son’s survival and my son’s life matter. And it’s a level 10 important decision. But then when we get down to the wish I had, glad I did, kind of filter, we frame that by if we do nothing, what could happen? If we do everything, what might happen? What’s the good, the bad and the ugly of doing the right thing? What’s the good and the bad and the ugly of doing nothing and letting him figure it out?
And we finally got to a point where we felt that based on what was happening, that he needed to have professional treatment and that we needed to get him into a professional rehab facility. And it was a very, very hard decision. Nothing was easy about that decision and it had grave consequences if we did nothing, I think, and it had hope and hopefully clarity on a better way to live and as the best return that we could have. And so we made a decision and I remember one Friday afternoon, he came home and he was fairly inebriated and high. And we had already arranged for transportation to the rehab facility that we had chosen. We had a loving conversation with him, my father prayed for him and put his hand on his shoulders. And he went peacefully out of the home with a backpack. He was in rehab for 75 days and learning how to get strong and to get better and to live a life of sobriety. It was the best odds for him to be able to live a long and normal life.
And it gets down to, where’s the wish I had, glad I did? Well, I’ll tell you right now. Three hours later, it was about 7:15 that Friday night, we had his phone. Obviously he couldn’t take that to rehab. And he got a text from a friend of his, and the text simply said, “I scored the heroin it’s on tonight.” And from my vantage point and my wife Deb’s vantage point, that was a message to our son that night he was going to shoot up heroin. Whether he ever did or not, I would not have risked it.
When I see a text and I know three hours ago, my boy walked out of my home peacefully into rehab. And I’m thinking three hours later, if we had waited till Saturday, instead of Friday, what might have happened? And it could be nothing. It could be, he could have said, no, I’m not going to do it, but I don’t want to leave things like that to chance.
I have a friend right now who brought to me, a decision he had to make about partnerships in business. And he had a partnership that was absolutely the wrong partnership. It was a dishonest partnership. It was a partnership rooted in fraud and theft and embezzlement. And it was getting to the point where he had discovered it and to the point where he was afraid for his wife and his kids’ life. And so the decision was, what do I do right now? I’ve got a partner and if he knows that I’m onto him and he knows that I’m going to press charges and he knows I’m going to send the cops, what might happen to my family? And he got really clear really quickly that the longer he let this go on, the harder it was going to be to do, and he would lose more and more money. And then the other part of it was, if I do it the right way, then maybe he’ll be in jail and maybe my family will be safe and maybe we can start breathing a little bit easier at night.
And so, again, I am not the decision making whisperer. I can just tell you from my own experience, I’ve made a lot of bad decisions.
Involve People You Trust in Your Decisions
I’ve made a lot of really great decisions and these three things work for me, and I hope they work for you. But I just want you to know, I’ll add one more thing. On the really big decisions in business, I involve the minds of three other people that I trust, not three people I think might give me the answer I’m looking for. But three people that I trust that will give me the right information and help me make wise choices.
Okay. Make the big decisions early in your life and manage them for your life. Don’t make the big decisions late in life. You won’t have enough time to execute them in the way that they were designed to be executed. And anytime the same problem emerges more two or three or four times, it’s probably time to look to making a different decision about a different direction. And that can be no, that can be yes, or that can be left turns, right turns. But at the end of the day, we are our decision. So let’s get really good at making wise choices. What’s the wise thing to do? And if we follow these three steps I gave you, I think we’re going to be in good shape. All right. Take care.
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