Making decisions slowly can result in negative outcomes. It is entirely possible to learn to make faster decisions.
Making decisions slowly can result in missed opportunities, both large and small. In professions such as law enforcement, military and the medical field, a slow decision can mean the difference between someone’s life or their death.
Gain More Decision-Making Experience
In college, I majored in Management. As you can imagine, we studied all kinds of decision making tools including the fishbone analysis and the SWOT analysis. Both helpful tools but not necessarily a requirement to make good decisions quickly. Fortunately, I had learned to make faster decisions before I stepped into that classroom.
As a young Deputy Sheriff in Dodge City, Kansas, I quickly learned the importance of making extremely quick decisions. They weren’t always the right decision but my batting average increased with time and experience.
Back then, I didn’t have the luxury of time to sit down and draw out a fishbone analysis or a SWOT analysis to help me decide how I was going to respond to a given situation. No, I had to figure that shit out and oftentimes, figure it out QUICK!
There is a new level of responsibility associated with pinning a badge on your uniform, holstering your duty weapon and going out into public. All of a sudden, you aren’t just responsible for you anymore. Your responsibilities now include the safety and well-being of every other person you come in contact with. Give that some real thought for a second. In the beginning, it’s definitely one hell of a new stressor. At least, it was for me.
I remember that first time I stepped into the patrol car by myself without my training officer, like it was yesterday. I was scared shitless. When I had a training officer next to me, it was like having a safety net. A wrong decision was quickly discarded by the guy who was in the know.
Once I was on my own, all bets were off. To add to the stress, that was back in the days before cell phones and Google. I couldn’t reach out for a quick and easy bailout on some of the tough decisions like the new kids can today on some calls.
That being said, there are still a lot of life and death decisions they have to make on their own in a split-second. When an officer-involved shooting situation arises, there isn’t any time to call someone for direction on how to proceed. They must make that life-saving decision and make it fast. The same holds true for many other professions too.
My stress level was extremely high at first, back then. That level of stress quickly subsided though. It’s funny how fast additional experience can teach you something. The moral of this is, face your fears. The more experience you get, the better it will become.
This holds also true for starting a business or just about anything else that may flare your nerves up too.
Get Quick Wins With Little Decisions To Begin WIth
Some people struggle with decision-making on the smallest of things. We see it all the time as we are out driving around in our communities. People hesitate on seemingly small driving decisions all the time. Making a turn, going through an intersection, picking a parking spot, etc. In grocery stores, they struggle with which product they want. In the movie theater, they struggle with where they are going to sit.
I call it “Hanging out at the Hesitation Station.” If you struggle with decisions such as these, the big decisions are going to seem unsurmountable.
If this is you, start making a conscious effort to pull the trigger quickly on those types of decisions. Those are little wins and great experience to help you begin making more important decisions quickly too. Commit! Make it happen! Get ‘er done!
Prepare Yourself To Make Faster Decisions
So, how can you prepare yourself to make faster decisions? There are a handful of things you can implement to give you a leg up in the lightning-fast decision making arena.
- Know What Time It Is
If you have been around Advance Dynamix for a while, you undoubtedly heard me say KIPFYH. KIPFYH = Knowledge Is Power, Feed Your Head. Have as much information on board as you possibly can about the situation you are going to make a decision on. That being said, don’t paralyze yourself with Analysis Paralysis. Educate yourself beforehand so you are well-prepared when the time comes. Going back to when I was a Sheriff’s Deputy, we didn’t wait to review the state statutes until we were on a call. No, we studied those law books beforehand so we knew what the hell we were doing when the time came. Give yourself a good knowledge base so you can be prepared to make well-informed decisions.
- Know The Possible Outcomes
Know your possible outcomes as they relate to the different decisions you may make. When I was on the tactical team at the Sheriff’s Office, we had a saying. “Always be cognizant of Murphy.” Murphy’s Law is always a real possibility. And when you are making life and death decisions at a moment’s notice, the last thing you want is for Murphy to rear his ugly head. Having a good grasp of all the potential outcomes can really help you when it comes to making a quick decision. That being said, there is always still the possibility for Murphy to pop up with one you hadn’t thought of. Just be prepared the best you possibly can be.
- Ensure The Sources Of Your Input Are Valid
When you are gathering input to help you make your decision, make sure you are getting it from valid sources. You and I are entrepreneurs. Not everyone thinks like we do.
When I was starting the collapsible flask company, I made the mistake of telling one of my coworkers and “friends” (or, so I thought anyway) about it. I didn’t take into consideration the fact he didn’t have an entrepreneur’s mindset. I was really excited about the potential and thought he would be super excited for me too. Much to my surprise (and total dismay), he totally missed the business-related message in the conversation. All he heard was “flask.” Much to my surprise, he was telling other co-workers I had a drinking problem. Wow! That escalated quickly! And, yeah, I’m not a big fan of that guy today. What a dumbass.
If you have ever started a business, you have probably ran into a very similar situation when telling friends and family about that venture you are working so hard on. Yes, they are our friends and family. We love them with all of our hearts. But, we must be very careful about letting them rain on our parade and piss in our Post Toasties. They don’t mean to but they can and will.
A great rule of thumb is to take advice from someone who has already accomplished what you are trying to make a decision about. Aunt Mable is great to drink coffee with and make small talk with but when it comes to making important decisions about something Aunt Mable has no experience with, you’re better off getting that input from someone who is actually in the know. Someone who can say, “Been there, done that.”
- Make Your Decision And Be Committed To It
There is no fence-riding in the decision making world. Eventually, you need to make your decision and then own it. You made it. Stand by it. You have to have self-confidence. As you make more and more decisions, you will continue to build confidence in your decision making skills. They will come faster and easier with the more experience you get under your belt.