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Decisions Build Careers

by Ramon Greenwood

Do you dislike making decisions and avoid the challenge whenever you can?

Take heart. Look around and you will find you have plenty of company.

Management psychologists Irving L. Janis and Leon Mann say people tend to be 'reluctant decision makers' because they are 'beset by conflict, doubts and worry.' They explain that people 'seek relief by procrastinating, rationalizing and denying responsibility' in making choices.

This human tendency creates a big vacuum. Its name is opportunity!

"Organizations cannot function, certainly cannot succeed, without good decision-makers. Organizations reward those men and women who are willing and able to fill those roles," according to Ramon Greenwood, senior career counselor at

Therefore, opportunities are available for those who are willing and able to come to grips with decision-making. It's the very essence of management. Success depends on being confident and reasonably comfortable with the process. Of course, success also requires a good batting average of right decisions. That doesn't mean you have to be right all of the time; it means be right more often than wrong.

Why People Shy Away From Decisions

It helps to understand some of the reasons why people dislike making decisions.

All decisions encompass some degree of irrevocability. Once a decision has been made there is no returning to square one. There is a price tag attached to every decision. There are bound to be winners and losers.

Decisions expose us to attention. We may lack confidence in our ability to make decisions. We may not know how to make decisions.

These facts of life breed the kinds of stress that make some people so uncomfortable they had rather let others call the shots and take home the rewards. Others are willing to stick their heads in the sand and let the issues go unresolved.

How To Make Better Decisions

You can improve your tolerance for making decisions and do a better job at it by embracing a few common sense ideas.

It is important to realize that although each decision carries with it certain consequences, no outcome is likely to be the raging success or the unmitigated catastrophe we tend to imagine.

You will not be a good decision maker if your goal is always to avoid losing rather than always trying to win. Nobody in his or her right mind can expect to be right 100 percent of the time. Besides that, as I have already said, you don't always have to be right in order to come out an overall winners.

You can't afford to be defensive about decisions that turn out to be wrong. When you are wrong, and you will be from time to time, admit it and go on.

If you want to be a good decision-maker don't get hung up waiting for all of the facts before coming to a conclusion. Satisfy your self that you understand the issue and have weighed all of the options. Test the alternative solutions among those who know the situation and will be impacted by the decision. Decide. Act.

Learn to trust your intuition. Hunches are not random bolts out of the blue. They are rooted in all the knowledge and experience you have accumulated in general and with regard to the issue at hand.

Decisions surrounding major issues should be broken into smaller, manageable parts. Take the parts one at a time; come to conclusions in sequence.

Resist being pressured into making a decision before you are ready to decide and act. All problems do not require immediate answers. Sometimes issues resolve themselves or just go away.

Don't base decisions on popularity. Or on friendship.

Make Decisions To Grow

Nobody says you have to play the game as decision makers. But before deciding your role, keep in mind how the real world works.

Organizations grow and profit only to the extent that their managers make good decisions. Therefore, ambitious organizations need and will pay to get men and women who can make decisions. People who have that ability are in limited supply. This means there are opportunities to gain positions of leadership and earn the material rewards that go to those persons who have the ability and courage to make decisions.

The choice is yours. Make a decision today.

Ramon Greenwood is Senior Career Counselor for He is a former Senior Vice President at American Express, a published author and syndicated columnist, a professional director and an entrepreneur.

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