Decisiveness is often the art of timely
Lately I've been wondering about
an issue that may not have an appropriate answer to it right
away: "How do we know that we're making the right decisions?" I
mean, in some cases it's pretty obvious what is good and what is
bad, right? If you see a little child heading for the street, for
instance, you'll run, grab the child, and so prevent him or her
from being hit by a car. Decisions like those are easy to make.
But what about the huge ones? Those, which appear every now and
then in our lives: The kind that we have to make when we find
ourselves at a crossroad. The ones that will cause the one thing
we fear most: change.
The conclusion I drew from my
latest struggle with life-changing is that facts don't
necessarily help us to reach our verdict. Sometimes we can have
all facts lying before us, and still not feel good about the
decision that they point to. Facts, after all, can also be
multi-interpretable: They will be colored by our perceptions. And
perception is a very personal thing. What one perceives as right,
another may condemn. More strikingly: What one sees as right
today, the same one may perceive to be wrong tomorrow! Hence, the
answer to making the right decision lies in the way you feel
about it now: what your conscience tells you at this point in
In order, though, to allow your
conscience to make a decision you can live with, you will need to
contemplate: The more delicate your issue, the deeper. And for
different people that may work in different ways. For me it's
prayer. For someone else it may be meditation. And yet another
one may call it something else. It doesn't matter. Whatever works
for you is okay, for ultimately it all boils down to finding the
inner source of wisdom. It requires crossing boundaries and
allowing yourself to look deep within, in order to recognize your
real "gut" feeling.
The tricky part about making
crucial decisions is, nevertheless, that only time will tell you
whether it was a good one or a not-so-good one. Especially when
your decisions involve people, there will always be a risk
factor. Because people change. And you change. And, as I
mentioned before, what felt good yesterday, may feel bad today.
For "All our final decisions are made in a state of mind that is
not going to last." (Marcel Proust)
And you know what? Making the
right decision has nothing to do with your level of education.
Even without established statements by famous people from the
past, we should all agree with that, for the simple reason that
there's a clear distinction between intellect and compassion. But
the famous statements may nevertheless illustrate it better.
Here's one: "Some people, however long their experience or strong
their intellect, are temperamentally incapable of reaching firm
decisions" (James Callaghan). Here's another interesting one:
"Most of our executives make very sound decisions. The trouble
is, many of them have turned out not to have been right" (Donald
From the above we can thus
conclude that there is an important portion of luck involved in
the outcome of any decision. Oliver A. Fick projected his
findings in that regard to the professional area when he said,
"Business leaders often get credit for the successful decisions
that were forced on them." But what Fick just stated, works just
as well in the more personal parts of our lives.
You know, there are so many
theories out there that can blur your view if you start thinking
of them. There are some that tell you to "never throw away an old
pair of shoes before you know that the new pair walks
comfortably." And, contradictory, there are those that teach you
that "holding on too long to old habits may turn you into
The art is, thus, to find the
solution that works for you at the time when the issue occurs.
And taking your time in making the decision (if you can afford
that) is no shame. In fact it's crucial, for it may work wonders.
Even the ones marked in history as heroes, must have struggled
with the issue of decision-making. Take Napoleon Bonaparte. He
once said: "Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more
precious, than to be able to decide." That statement must have
been the result of a long, deep struggle.
As a final comment I would like
to share with you my conclusion, that it's not upon us to
determine whether a decision we made was right or wrong:
Sometimes making a wrong decision can be right for us, because it
may mean that we need to learn a lesson.