Business owners, entrepreneurs and senior leaders are tasked with deciding the path in what can be challenging and uncertain situations. If indecision is a theme in your business, how can you recover from this trait?
Let’s look at this in detail, from why it happens, where it comes from and how to overcome this and find a place of confidence in decision making.
Why are some people indecisive?
Does not being able to make a particular decision mean you have one of these? No, but if it’s turning up again and again in life and work, it becomes more likely that it’s the case.
Why are some decisions harder than others?
Some decisions are just harder than others.
If you need to decide just for yourself whether you want to have a cheese sandwich or chicken sandwich for lunch, that’s just a decision for you. There’s not much complexity and the answer comes from “which do I feel like most?” .. although health might come into it too, I suppose.
However, if you’re trying to decide between five companies to engage with for video production, your team and bosses all have different views about them and you’re not even sure which one you prefer, that might be a tough decision to make.
Now, where perfectionism comes is in that, in the grand scheme of things, this decision doesn’t really matter. Not really. Not hugely. Maybe all five are good enough and other people have just expressed opinions, but in your mind this might be hard to decide. It would have been easier to just have one and just to say “yes” or “no”.
Now think about an even more complex problem; your team are underperforming and you need to decide what path to take to improve their productivity. You could get them coaching, or training. You could apply pressure, or back off. You could give them more freedom, or less. You could treat them all individually.
This problem has so many possible solutions that it’s bewildering, and comparing them against each other is incredibly hard. And your mind is struggling with deciding.
Why is your mind struggling to decide?
Well, you don’t want to get it wrong. It’s important to someone, somewhere, and you want to perform at your job. You want to feel like, when you go home, you’ve helped steer the ship to better waters.
Now, it’s perfectly human to feel like this at times, but if you have a crippling fear and maybe you’ve lost a few jobs because you were blamed in the past (regardless of whether it was your fault) and generally you feel very responsible for the outcomes you’re involved in, making this decision will be incredibly uncomfortable.
Transactional Analysis … are you OK?
Let’s learn a little theory.
There is a concept in Transactional Analysis which helps you understand how you believe you relate to the world. There are two axes to this: whether I’m OK and whether you’re OK.
I’ve highlighted the two interesting ones with yellow arrows. They have a common feature: “I’m not OK”. These are the people pleasing groups of people. These people generally feel that things are their fault, and blame can be very uncomfortable for them.
So, indecision for them is often there as a procrastination technique to help them to avoid these uncomfortable situations. Even if someone else wasn’t to blame them, they’d be unkind to themselves.
And this constant unkindness as an adult – whether from ourselves or others – is what’s keeping us from making some more complex decisions which don’t have an obvious option that’s easy to choose.
It’s important to understand that you won’t necessarily feel this way in every situation. For example, you may have a colleague or boss who tend to be slightly bullying in their nature, or you may have investors who you feel responsible toward.
How does this occur in most people?
During out childhoods, we soak up where we think our place is in the world. This comes from our caregivers, siblings, teachers and friends.
If we were blamed or make to feel responsible for outcomes in life, we might end up feeling that other people are right and we’re wrong.
How does this occur in ADHD people?
Many ADHD people fall into this category since they’ve been trying to live up to unrealistic expectations throughout their lives. They have the intelligence to complete highly complex tasks, but some simple tasks can be tough for them, and they often felt there was something wrong with them.
Any decision is better than no decision
There will come a time where holding back from the decision is more costly and less beneficial than making the wrong decision. At what point do you say “enough is enough”? 90% certainty? 95%? 99%? 99.9%? There has to be a cutoff.
Sure, do your due diligence. Canvas opinions. Evaluate the options. Build a decision matrix to help you.
But at some point, accept that no one can be perfect and holding yourself to that standard isn’t going to move you forward. The future is too complicated to predict.
Remember that you’re still OK, and you will cope with the outcome.
10 coaching questions to help you move forward
A large part of coaching is awareness and opening up options for you. So, here are some questions that might help you to uncover ways to move forward.
You’ll have some kind of outcome that you would prefer. Maybe it’s that you make additional revenue, or your business becomes more effective and efficient. Whatever this is, it’s positive, and you’re hoping for it to be the outcome.
Now, on the other side, there will be some outcome you desperately want to avoid. It might be that you lose a major contract, or your colleagues lose respect for you. It’s something you really don’t want to happen.
Negative stories that we tell ourselves don’t stop with that moment; they go onwards. Maybe we tell ourselves that we’ll lose respect, then we’ll miss out on a promotion and not be able to buy the house we want and we’ll have let our families down.
The downstream impacts are what we really, really want to avoid.
Let’s look at how you’d feel if this came true for you. Would you feel ashamed? Scared? Embarrassed? Sad? Angry? Jealous? Something else?
But let’s also be a little more realistic about the risk of this happening by evaluating whether this is really likely to happen. Most of these major fears never come true, and I’m sure you’ve had many of them in your life which haven’t happened.
So, when you look back at your answers, is holding back from this decision or these decisions really protecting you from something that you don’t want to encounter? A situation which is too far out of your comfort zone?
So let’s try to be proactive and discover some new ways (at least two; more if you can) that you could move forward while reducing the risk even more. You’ll have to examine the reasons behind the risks to do this successfully.
For now, put aside whether you think they’re possible; we’re just brainstorming.
Now let’s discover why you’re holding yourself back from those new ideas. There may be something along the way that’s uncomfortable for you; something that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
And if there is, is it physically possible for you to overcome those hurdles? The answer is yes, unless you physically are unable to do it.
And now, consider whether you will choose to overcome them.
If you needed to learn to make cold call sales on the phone, will you do that? Will you get some training? Will you do some trials with people?
If you needed to do some public speaking, will you take the first step and find a small group, and then move on to a larger and larger group?
Moving past indecision often will require some kind of move out of your comfort zone, so committing to a start is an essential first step. Go as slow as you need down this path though.
Can I help with your indecision?
Are you still struggling with coping with this decision? If so, book a free call below, where we can examine the decision and how you are reacting to it.