How to Make the Most Difficult Decisions

One of the most difficult decisions a person will make in their career is the decision to start or buy their own business.  It is a decision with a high failure rate, no guarantee of success, and one that affects not only the individual but their family and their standard of living.  Make the right decision and you stand to join the income elite.  Make the wrong decision and you risk losing a steady job, your self-esteem, your life savings and maybe even some friends.  With so much at risk, how can one come to make this decision?

First, understand that everyone is different and people make decisions differently.  Some people can make a decision and others get paralyzed by the information.  The answer is never found in the data but within the decision maker.

If the interpreter allows the data and the opinions of others to interfere with the decision making process, the decision will be lost.  Everyone will always have an opinion but only a few will have the fortitude to make a decision. 

This does not suggest that you don’t consider the input of others.  But it does suggest that you listen only to those who speak from experience.  As serial entrepreneur David Mahmood proclaimed at the November 2007 IBBA Conference in Frisco, Texas, “the only way to avoid making mistakes is to have experience and the only way to get experience is by making mistakes.”  If you seek out those with experience, you will either prove or disprove your “gut” decision.  Consider this information along with the only opinions that matter: your spouse, your children (if applicable) and the person you look at in the mirror every day; the decision will be clear. 

In an interview on CNBC last week when discussing his decision to leave IBM to follow his dream of being a stand up comedian, Jeff Foxworthy said, “sometimes you just have to hold your nose and jump.”  I can’t think of any better way to say it.  As Jeff went on to explain, once you jump you have to outwork everyone else.  There are plenty of people out there that made the jump, some with more talent, but the ones that succeed are the ones willing to put in the work required to be successful.  If you believe you have what it takes to work hard and be successful, then go ahead, “hold your nose and jump.”

I will leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt found in “Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership” by James M. Strock.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming;  who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”