“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
If the world were a perfect place, decision making would be easy. There would be a good and a bad option. You’d choose the good option. That’d be it.
Unfortunately, the world is not so perfect. Too often, the choice isn’t between good and bad; it’s between bad and worse.
So how do you choose?
The first thing you need to do in such a situation is understand what the options are. Sometimes you’ll find a shiny new third option, often you won’t, but it’s worth the time spent checking either way. You need to properly understand your situation.
In the 2012 film Argo, which tells the true story of Tony Mendez and the Iran Hostage Crisis, various CIA officials spend weeks trying to make a plan to extract six Americans trapped in Tehran. They consider ideas ranging from escaping under the guise of journalists to biking 300 miles to the Turkish border. Mendez looks at the situation and comes up with another plan: pretend to be a Hollywood film crew. As he puts it,
“There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”
Aileron, in a 2012 article for Forbes, came up with a broad, although obviously not all-inclusive, set of difficult decisions.
There is no formula for making these decisions, for deciding which option is bad and which one is worse. In order to make an effective choice, you need to determine two things: what you would most and least like to lose, and how much risk you’re comfortable with. Your priorities should guide your decision. After taking action, know you did the best you could and deal with the fall-out, good and bad. Remember: no choice is made in a vacuum. It’s how you act over time that matter most, regardless of a few difficult decisions.
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