Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.Phil McGraw

“This is so hard. I have two excellent job offers, and I don’t know how to choose!” 

Most people react to this kind of statement with a laugh and a remark of, “Oh, it must be rough to have to choose between two great things.”

Whether you have to choose between two bad options or two great ones, it will be stressful.  What many people don’t realize is that this stress is not the same as the momentary overwhelm one might feel when making a short-term choice like “What should I choose off a restaurant menu where everything looks so good?”  The pressure in big decisions comes from people’s sense that their personal ‘train tracks’ are diverging and will take them to significantly different future places.

When you face a choice that leads to divergent paths, consider doing the following thought experiments.

1.  What is the future you would love to see for yourself?  Or your product, your company, or all of the above. The choices you are facing will help you envision the future.  But also, stand in the future and consider what excellent outcomes you think could come from the choices you make.  Write them down.  Highlight the items that bring you the most excitement.

2. Consider both the risks and rewards of the choices.  Weigh them.  What possible negative consequences do these choices contain? What would the impact be if those risks came true? Also, consider how likely those risks are for each path.  Do the same for the potential rewards.

3. Talk to the people who are joining you on the journey the decision will invoke. Big decisions rarely involve just you. The people who are on the ‘train’ with you will have their perspectives.  Talk to people outside the train as well. They can sometimes see farther ahead than you can.  

4.  What is the absolute deadline for making this decision? I’m not particularly eager to procrastinate on big decisions. However, there are times when waiting longer can reveal the final information you need.

5.  In the end, be decisive.  Eventually, you must choose.  Exceptional leaders choose without regret or guilt. They move boldly into the future.

Now that you made the decision, roll up your sleeves, get to work, and make the decision right. 

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

Photo by pine watt on Unsplash

You may also like:

Endurance Is Not Always a Virtue

I have seen leaders show great endurance in leading marathon projects. They are putting in marathon hours. The sweat sheen on them and their teams is obvious, even heroic.

Do You Need a Win?

A client wrote to me recently with a note that said simply “I need a win.” Have you been there, where it feels like you have faced a sudden losing streak and quite simply there is a need for a win? I have. I expect Elon Musk is looking for one with Tesla.

The Reader’s Edge

The exceptional leaders are voracious consumers of information. They listen to audio books, they read books, they seek out others to hear their stories. The things they read spans multiple genres, time periods, and cultures.


"Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories." — Miller Williams, Poet My wife and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Even though real work of building a life together happens in the minutes and hours between...


"Welcome to Sherwood!" — Robin Hood Father's Day was a delight for me. My family treated me a number of fun things. I was served breakfast in a hammock. I was treated to a delicious cold milkshake at a local ice-cream shop. My daughter and I have a plan to go buy some...


"I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with. " — Sonia Sotomayor One of my best clients and I were enjoying the start of our day at a local coffee cafe. We covered a range of topics and one...


"Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery. " — Mark Amidon The Washington DC zoo has this very interesting roulette-style wheel located just past the cheetah exhibit. You spin the wheel to find out if you caught your prey, your...


"A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. that change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end." — Andrew Grover There are a wave of...


"Even though it is not always easy… being a planetary scientist is one of the coolest jobs on the planet!" — Elizabeth (Zibi) Turtle   Imagine exploring Titan! And to be clear, I am not referring to the planet Titan of Thanos (Avengers), I am referring to a...

Making the Leap

Paradigm leaps take need, courage, and sweat. You will notice a different look and feel to the newsletter this week. Earlier this year, I became unsatisfied with a few key things and decided to make some changes.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This