Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Persistence is the best decision making method

I've never really made a decision unless I carefully weighed all my options. As a child, I was naturally more spontaneous through my early teens, then my mother gradually started influencing my decision making process. That entailed thinking and re-thinking an issue until I came up with the best possible solution.

It was no surprise then that when I had started having children, I read child rearing books by the best authors. There was Mr. Spock and Heidi Murkoff's 'What to Expect' series, among others I picked up along the way. When my children were about to start school, I applied the same research method to pick the best school system. Same goes for going back to school, investing, career search, jobs, you name it. I spent hours researching a particular topic before finally making a decision.

This process worked for some time. In reality, it's what sensible people do. They are presented with a problem, develop several alternatives, and then pick the best solution. That's what we're taught anyway, especially when you're in business school. But then the notion of risk comes to play. Then after all this info overload, we're still expected to somehow sift through it all and make a sound decision.

There have been times where the decision-making process has been too overwhelming. When do we proceed with caution, and when do we just hold our breaths and jump? Most importantly, why does either method sometimes work best with others?

I have found through my own observations that it's not necessarily the method of decision making that makes all the difference, but the persistence we apply in making things happen. Life works in odd ways, and sometimes it's hit or miss. It's rare that our decisions are on target, regardless of how calculating we may be.

For those who seem to effortlessly make things happen, the one advantage they have is the willingness to keep trying regardless of the intended outcome. If one method doesn't work, they'll try the next one, and the next one, and the next until something happens remotely as they expected it to. The rest of us just give in too quickly when something doesn't work.

Another observation: it's really tough to go at most things alone. That's also another advantage those doers have. They're not afraid to put themselves out there, to be vulnerable, or even wrong, to make things happen. Like the Nike motto, they just do it, even if it hurts, irritates, or downright frustrates.

Unlike what the cautious group thinks, thick skin is not a given. It is developed over time when you're willing to persist. So, instead of trying to come up with the best way to approach a problem, maybe all we need sometimes is just the will to persist. So, go ahead and make some mistakes raising those kids, take a course that is not part of your curriculum, and try a job you wouldn't necessarily think is a great fit. Somewhere along the line, the solution will hit you when you least expect it.

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