As a type A action-oriented person, I get stuff done. I’m decisive. It’s business, not personal. And, I usually make good decisions… even when made rapidly. This has been a large part of my success as a leader and an owner of a company. When I see a situation, I analyze it, determine my options, and make a decision. I commit to it knowing that if it is the wrong decision, I will deal with the ramifications later… and hopefully learn from it.
That said, I recently learned that I need to be still more often as a leader. I don’t think we are taught enough in business school about simply being still at times. I don’t mean being indecisive because were afraid to make a decision. I mean pausing before we make a decision to see if things change.
For me personally, I approach this from a business and a biblical perspective. I understand that not everyone worships the same or worships at all… and that doesn’t change whether or not this impacts your leadership style. In fact, a recent trip to Thailand and learning about Buddhism reinforced this for me. In Christianity, we are often told to be still and let God’s will be done. This doesn’t mean inaction is always the answer… but it means we don’t always have to react. We don’t always have to act. There can be value in simply being still… especially when it is an emotional decision. Being still to ponder. Being still to see if you feel the same way the next day. Or, being still to allow a higher power to do their work.
This is HARD for me! I like to get stuff done. Make decisions. Cross things off my list. And, I’m good at getting stuff done, making decisions, and crossing things off my list! I don’t like to sit still. I’m not good at it. And, it feels so vulnerable. But, in fact, it takes strength to decide to wait. To be clear, this isn’t not making a decision. It’s making a decision to press pause for a day or a week or a finite amount of time. Circumstances change. Maybe more information will be available tomorrow. Or you’ll have time to see reactions from stakeholders before making a final decision.
What I learned through a recent knee-jerk reaction is that there’s no reason why you can’t sit on a decision for a day or two. If it is so urgent that you have to make a decision that day fine. If someone is in danger, sure, make a decision immediately. But, how many things are really so urgent that you have to make a decision that day? When something catches you off-guard and you feel like you need to immediately fix it, that’s your clue that some of the reaction may be emotional and that you may need to be still a day or two before acting.
For me, I’ll continue to make most of my decisions in the same fashion that’s worked so well for me for years. Assess, analyze, decide. The majority of the decisions I make are well-suited for that. But, now I have on my radar to watch for signs that I should be still for a day or two before making a decision. For me, those signs are if something is outside the normal parameters for our business, an exception that isn’t a no-brainer, and any decision that has an emotional component.
Try it the next time you have a big decision to make. You’ll be surprised how powerful and freeing it feels to decide to be still.