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March 21, 2017

Teach Your Kids to Make Decisions

Good decisions come from experience; experience comes from making bad decisions.
(Mark Twain)

If I could wave a magic wand over my kids, I would wish they become decisive people. That’s why I dedicated a chapter to the topic in our new book, Choose Your Own Adulthood. Here’s an excerpt:

A little known practice of successful people is that they don’t allow themselves to be paralyzed by the need for more and more information before they make a decision. Successful people have learned to decide more, and deliberate less. I know this sounds counterintuitive. Successful people, after all, are the ones who make the best decisions, so it would seem the opposite is true, that these people are the ones who take their time, gather as much information as possible, and then, after deliberating over this information with wise counsel, finally decide upon the best course of action.

That is true some of the time. But not most of the time. Most of the time, successful people get just enough information to eliminate the obviously terrible choices, choose a path among the remaining options, and then learn and adapt as they go. Once they set out, they will continually adjust course, but they rarely, if ever, change their minds and go back. Unsuccessful people do just the opposite. Unsuccessful people deliberate and ruminate over a decision forever, thinking of all the possible outcomes, and then, reluctantly, make a choice. But they’re still not done: even after making the decision, they hesitate to act on it, and often they are quick to reverse course and change their minds.

What’s the answer? Decide more, and deliberate less. Make a conscious choice to be a decisive person, knowing that deciding on a course of action is not the end; it’s the beginning. This is because just like an airplane’s flight plan, taking off in one direction gets you going, and then you will make helpful adjustments in the air—adjustments you couldn’t have made had you stayed stuck on the tarmac. To use another metaphor, all good boat captains know you cannot steer a non-moving ship. More important than the initial direction is just getting going in the first place.

Peace begins with pause,

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