In what seems like a million years ago I attended a keynote at a conference given by former General Norman Schwarzkopf. The keynote was a few years after the first Gulf War. General Schwarzkopf was a popular figure then and it was a standing room only crowd. You’d expect the general to regale us with stories of victory on the battlefield but he didn’t. He was speaking about leadership and he used the example of picking a phone system.
It turns out that before the General was fighting wars he was pushing paper in Washington. Career advancement in the Army goes through the Pentagon. While in a staff job at the Pentagon Schwarzkopf was assigned the task of picking the phone system to be used at the Pentagon. This was a non-trivial decision that had been pending for a couple of years before he was given the task. Schwarzkopf relied on some leadership advice he’d been given and made the decision. He didn’t know absolutely if it was the best choice but he was certain that a decision on any new phone system was better then two more years of the old system. That’s what it means to be a leader – choosing an uncertain future rather than waiting for certainty.
There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice. @simonsinek
I recalled this story when I read a post today by Kneale Mann that lamented our impatience. My impatience forces me to act sooner not later. I have bought two homes and a number of cars in less time than it takes many people to choose their shoes. I avoid analysis paralysis by first creating a bounding box for the decision. Anything outside the decision making box is discarded. I decrease the size of the box to the point were there are limited criteria that need to be decided. Once that’s done decisions come quickly.
Making a decision doesn’t have to be hard or take forever.