Indecisiveness. Information overload. Paralysis by analysis. Do you ever find yourself struggling with any of those things? Do you find yourself seized up, not knowing what to do next?
From time to time in my life, in my ministry, in my online work and in different areas, I’ve found myself in thestate where I come to a dead end and I’m not sure what to do next. The lack of sureness, that lack of assurance really keeps me from making a decision and taken action.
I’ve bumped up against that from time to time in my life and come to the uncomfortable conclusion that the reason this happens to everybody at some point is this crazy thing called fear of failure. It’s actually the fear of failure. The fear, not necessarily of a catastrophic failure, but the fear of making a mistake that keeps us from taking action and doing what we should do next.
I’ve resisted that conclusion for quite some time, but I’ve done some more reading even this week and concluded that’s it. I think when we come to this place where there are multiple options and we’re not sure what we ought to do, the thing that keeps us from moving is this fear of making a mistake.
I think often of something I heard Brian Tracy say once. He said, in leadership, eighty percent of your decisions are wrong. They aren’t catastrophically wrong failures because in most leadership decisions it’s not a a black and white, two option decision, but really a whole spectrum of decisions. But 80 percent of the time at least, the decision you make is something less than the perfect decision. The goal is not to arrive at the perfect decision. The goal is to quickly make a reasonable decision. If it needs adjusting and changing down the road to do so, and do it fast.
The idea of failing fast is something you come across a lot in the online marketing world. You can do all kinds of testing, look at metrics and make a decision, then get the data back, and make a change. The faster you fail, the more quickly you come to the right decision. Isn’t that interesting? It’s the fear of failure that keeps us from making a decision. But the more quickly we make decisions and fail, the sooner we’ll get to the right decision.
The reason this is the case is that the path between where you are in some area of life or work or ministry and where you need to go is not a straight line. It’s not a perfect two point line where you start here, you finish here with no deviations. No, it is more of a meandering path because even if we know exactly where we want to go or ought to go, to get there requires a lot of sub decisions along the way. Those decisions might take us down what looks like rabbit trails, but they’re essential rabbit trails because of the things we’ll learn as we go down those rabbit trails.
Another principle that comes into play with this whole issue is something I’ve shared before from Alex Shafron of the Momentum podcast, is that movement brings momentum. When you’re stuck and not moving forward, take some energy to get going, because movement brings momentum.
If you start making decisions and start taking action, momentum begins to build and you begin to move forward. Even if you’re not moving forward in the perfectly right direction, becaues you have that forward momentum, you can adjust and direct. As they say, you can’t steer a parked car, but as you’re moving forward, you’re now in a place where you can make the adjustments along the way.
So just a few things I’ve been thinking about with this whole issue of decision making, information overload and paralysis by analysis. What’s the decision or area of life where you been kind of stuck trying to figure out the perfect decision? Maybe it’s time to just make a good guess or a reasonable decision, then take action and adjust the pathway as you walk it.
Have an outstanding day. Press on.