You know that gut feeling? The one that tells you to do or say something? The one that hits you like a hockey puck and knocks you over – almost without your permission? Yes, they call that intuition – and it’s a special gift. In the prehistoric days, intuition was the essential mechanism that kept us alert and alive in the wild. Today, it serves a far less animalistic purpose and yet still informs our judgement calls.
Acting on intuition can be a terrifying thing. No information, no data and no time to support your gut. What if someone judges you for it? What if it gets you into trouble? Takes you down the wrong road? What if you misunderstand your inner voice? What if you’re wrong?
You may not be right. But there’s no way to know ahead of time. That’s why they call it a risk. Many situations do not have time or the infrastructure for the kind of research most decisions call for. Sometimes you just need to listen to your belly and do something. It takes balls. Or ignorance. Or blind luck. Whatever it is, you don’t have time or reason to think. Just do it. And see what happens. Intuition can be a magical thing if used diligently.
Seems like such a silly little tool, but do not underestimate the power of pros & cons lists in helping you navigate difficult decisions. Simply getting your thoughts down on paper can help you better-objectify the situation. If you take the list seriously and generate genuine pros and cons in your brainstorming session, the visual key to how many thoughts land in each column can really help you clear the air and see the right choice. If you take your time and add to the list over a longer period, you will be surprised how objective the tool can be. I use pros & cons lists to assess almost all of life’s big decisions. As far as I can tell, none of them have failed me yet.
I think people forget that phones can still be used for voice conversations. I get so many back and forth text messages or email chains on a day to day basis. In the hours that pass trading notes, the discussion could have passed and resolved in a handful of minutes. Texts make sense for updates. Emails make sense for a bigger pile of information. For making big decisions or catching up? Not even close.
Call someone. It’s quicker, more personal and less ambiguous.
I am a huge advocate for different. Different gives you a competitive advantage. But I do not think different should be the sole reason to make a decision. Different is branding more so than a core value. Different does not sustain when other people copy you or if you fail. Different should support, qualify or celebrate a decision; it should not be the decision itself.
Clichés exist because they worked before and can work again in certain situations. You should not rule out an opportunity because it feels familiar. Sometimes familiar solutions to a problem can be focused, modernized and differentiated to a competitive place. I’m not saying different is bad. In fact, I encourage different 99% of the time. But you have not made a thorough decision if you support something only because it is different.
You cannot snap your fingers and wake up a leader; you must earn it through the respect of people who might follow you. Good leaders earn respect on their own, without nomination or title inheritance. Strong leaders grow through decision-making in everyday life, in small groups and in situations where no one else stands up. Picking a place to eat and pushing solutions to problems are small decisions that, if successful, will help you build a full portfolio of respect. If not earning credibility enough to become the President of the United States, your immediate circle will at least look to you as a problem solver or for restaurant recommendations. Leadership and title come in many shapes and sizes, so it’s important for you to choose how you want to contribute to the world. You can lead few or many, intimately or anonymously. Earn respect by mastering your trade, making a difference or showing compassion for others. Demonstrate your actions in public. You cannot fancy yourself a leader until other people fancy you a leader first.
Commit, commit with stipulations, or don’t commit at all. ‘Maybe’ leads people on and only procrastinates the real answer. ‘Maybe’ hardly answers the question and forces you into an awkward corner where you ultimately have to decide. ‘Maybe’ usually means ‘no’ anyway, so why not be honest?
You will disappoint people more by leading them on and saying ‘no’ later than if you just say ‘no’ now. And who knows? Say ‘no’ now and they might return with a better deal.
Decide. Stop wasting people’s time. Stop wasting your own time. Yes or no?