Is fear of failure stopping you making decisions?

To some extent, we are all born to worry.

After all, there is a lot to worry about, isn’t there?

The media is quick to tell us about bad news and the word ‘fear’ appears in many headlines. doesn’t it?

Your loved ones want to protect you from failure.

When it comes to making bold decisions, it is safer for them to advise you against making a decision that could turn out badly.

Some of your friends may divert you from making big decisions.

The human imagination knows no bounds when it comes to thinking about failure and the subsequent consequences.

If you are avoiding making big decisions, try making smaller decisions and think about the outcomes of these decisions.

Successful people are used to making personal and professional decisions on a continual basis.

They know that they can’t be 100% right.

They also know that if they stop making decisions, their successful life will fade away into a lesser reality.

Reflect on the way that you make decisions and think about what you are afraid of. Is it, for example, the opinion of others?

What would happen if the decision is successful?

Divide a big decision into smaller ones and make the first decision. It may involve some research or fact finding, for example.

Be bold. Move forward. Make that decision.

How to improve decision making

Here are 10 tips for improving your decision making capabilities:

1. Recognise that decision making is a skill that you can improve.

2. Ask someone that you trust to give you some feedback on your decision making skills.

3. The more frequently that you make decisions, the better you will become.

4. Some decisions need to be made quickly (getting out of the way of a vehicle that is driving at you). Start with small decisions and make up your mind quickly.

5. Other decisions require deliberation and time for reflection. Don’t ignore the big decisions and give yourself a deadline.

6. Talk to people you know who are good at making decisions: how do they do this?

7. Cut down the number of choices that you have.

8. Investigate decision making techniques; there are many to choose from.

9. Read books on successful people who have made their own decisions in life.

10. Read some books on decision making systems and techniques.

Decision making tips

Do you have to make decisions within your business or professional life? If that the answer is ‘yes’ these decision-making tips may help. Begin by thinking about:

  • Whether the cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of action?
  • Whether you have a clear vision of where you want to arrive?
  • Whether any of the options on the table will bring about your vision?
  • Whether you have factored in the potential downsides?
  • Whether you can deal with the worst-case scenario?
  • Which friends or partners will you let down?

Challenges that arise when your values or principles have been offended are more difficult to deal with than the failure of a process.

Having a process shows that you have already tried to tackle the problem.

Let’s deal with the easiest problem first.

Assume that something you previously set up which has worked well for some time is now found wanting. It could be something in public life, it could be a business or part of a business, or it could be something personal.

Given that whatever it was you created was built on the back of a series of decisions that you made, it makes sense to revisit those decisions in the light of your experience. Experience is a wonderful thing when it culminates in wisdom and improves judgement, so the first step to a solution is to go back in time.

Take the following steps:

  1. What was the problem you were trying to solve when you set up your process?
  2. What key decisions did you take that led you to set up your process?
  3. What critical good and bad experiences have you had along the way?
  4. What would you have done differently, knowing what you know today?
  5. Has your vision stood the test of time or do you need to change it?
  6. Should you mend your process or scrap it?
  7. What will your new or repaired process look like and what will you achieve?

There will be other things you can ask yourself, however these questions cover the key issues.

The real point is that however bad it looks, you have relevant experience – together with an existing model to work on. This is a better place to be in than having a hidden problem that is going to come out and bite you.

You will also have the benefit of knowledge and experience of similar situations and, if sensible, the help of sage advice from those you respect and who bring something different to the party.

A health warning! We often misread our previous experiences. This can be dangerous when we are relying on them to inform us about future decisions.

Now we come to the really difficult issue, the head in the sand problem! A problem that is too difficult to solve and at worst, an ill-defined problem that only skirts the fundamental deep-lying issue.

These difficult issues come about when you either ignore something with the capacity to get out of it or, stick the problem in a can and put the lid on it allowing it to fester. Sadly, situations like this don’t ignore you, they come back at you when you are not ready.

When confronted with a hidden problem and pushed to find a solution it is easy to say:

“I would not have started here.”

The fact is that you shouldn’t be starting here, you should have decided what you wanted the outcome to be when the problem first came to your notice.

The best way to deal with dilemmas is to avoid them. They often arise when situations are allowed to drift and you become a victim of events.

In this position when you are faced with a seemingly intractable situation with no complete solution there are broadly four alternatives:

  1. Do nothing and accept the consequences.
  2. Take holding action, deal with a few peripheral issues and massage your audience into believing that you are decisive.
  3. Take the least worst alternative.
  4. Plough every available resource into finding a better solution.

My overriding decision-making tip is that if you have a problem, don’t ignore it.

David Knowles-Leak is an experienced decision-making workshop leader and public speaker. He helps multi-nationals, brands, companies, startups, charities, schools and individuals to enhance their decision-making skills. The decision-making workshops can be delivered for groups of any size. Typically, they are for between six and twelve attendees.

He can help busy people to produce better quality decisions. He is a thoughtful and engaging workshop presenter who shares real-world stories based on his experience in industry, commerce and education.

To find out more, call David on: 07585 775 438


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