Top 10 Tenets Of Successful Decision Making For Entrepreneurs

Top 10 Tenets Of Successful Decision Making For Entrepreneurs

This article originally published on Forbes.com

Entrepreneurs are faced with an endless array of daily decision making. And, if not handled with conscious control and discernment, it can lead to decision fatigue, causing a decrease in productivity, effectiveness and ability to achieve and sustain success.

As a veteran entrepreneur who has conducted business worldwide, I’ve been directly involved in extensive decision making processes, both on my own behalf and as agent for others. I’ve had the opportunity to witness decision making habits of executives of private and publicly traded companies, Fortune 50 company executives (including their legal counsel and primary partners) and solopreneurs.

Through decades of that direct personal experience, I’ve discovered a pattern of what works to deliver the minimum amount of decision making stress and strain possible and the maximum successful outcome.

1. Eliminate and/or minimize daily, nonessential decision making. When it comes to your daily agenda, use self-control to focus only on what is essential. This keeps your mind fresh and sharp, enabling it to think optimally to achieve the highest outcomes.

2. Avoid polarization. When it comes to business agreements, seek out the core values of the company or person you’re making a decision about. Make sure those values are compatible with yours. When core values are in alignment, communication, problem-solving and shared responsibility flow more easily and effortlessly. When they are not aligned, there is a predisposition toward roadblocks, delays or even failure to achieve success.

3. Avoid people-pleasing. There is a natural human tendency to engage in people-pleasing with the people we like as opposed to those we don’t. Liking someone makes it more challenging to say no or to set a boundary when it’s required and can lead to poor decision making. No matter how much you like another person, don’t lower your standards when it comes to doing your homework. It’s business.

4. Assess personality compatibility. If you don’t like someone yet choose to do business with them anyway, you add extra stress, strain and fatigue to the business relationship and can diminish positive returns. Find someone you have more synergy with.

5. Don’t feel pressured to make decisions on someone else’s “need-by” timeline. Rushing your decision making process to accommodate someone else’s timeline is never a good idea. If the timeline can’t be negotiated to match your needs, it’s a sign that it’s not a good match and will lead to other hard-lining behavior in the future.

6. When in any doubt, don’t make a final decision. Making a final decision in spite of lingering doubts is allowing an unconscious or conscious fear to drive your decision. This is an emotional decision, not a rational one, and it often leads to making poor choices. Wait until you are free from doubt.

7. Don’t rush your contract negotiations for any reason. Rushing negotiations is often a sign of being too hungry for success. It means that you are coming from a place of fear or desperation, which will not net you the positive returns you’re seeking. This will only cause a delay in achieving the success that you want or need.

8. Get references, no matter how renowned or grand the recommendation. It’s imperative, in every circumstance, to do your due diligence to make the wisest, risk-averse decision as possible. You need to hear firsthand the answers to your specific questions. Assuming the answers is a risky proposition.

9. Don’t allow fear to rule your decision making process. Fear is an irrational feeling, and not a rational thought. An irrational mindset leads to mistake-making. Take the time to do all the research, investigation and rational analysis prior to making a decision so fear doesn’t override your rational judgment.

10. Get advice, trust your gut and make your own final decisions. Nobody knows your goals, values, wants, needs or point of view like you do.  Not even the most seasoned expert is likely coming from the same position as you, which can lead you astray. It’s important to get expert advice, but it’s imperative to make your own decisions to achieve the outcomes that you want and need.

Getting mired in too much decision making can lead to decision fatigue, and therefore, failure. Both Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg know this all too well. That’s why they eliminate all the nonessential decisions. When Obama was president, he chose to only wear blue or grey suits every day. “I’m trying to pare down decisions,” he said in an interview. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg almost always wears a grey T-shirt and jeans for the same reason. “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. And there’s actually a bunch of psychology theory that even making small decisions around what you wear, or what you eat for breakfast, or things like that, they kind of make you tired and consume your energy.”

If not made carefully, every decision, big or small, can deplete your time and energy. By consciously and consistently abiding by the top 10 tenets of successful decision making, you’ll optimally be conditioned to avert decision fatigue and achieve maximum returns and success on your energy spent making decisions.

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: Don’t Make Decisions…

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: Don’t Make Decisions…

What !#@! Don’t make decisions? Now, how can that possibly be sound success advice? Let me tell you how too much decision making can afflict you with decision making madness disorder (I just made that up), but, it’s true! Too much decision making can deplete your brain power and cause you to suffer from decision fatigue. When your brain is in decision making overload it adversely affects your judgement, creativity and stamina. Not good for achieving your goals.

The question then begs to be answered — how then does one make all the many decisions that an entrepreneur must make without becoming victim of brain drain, losing focus and distancing one’s self from achieving their goals?

Here are the Top Five Strategies to Avoid Decision Fatigue:

1. Keep It Simple:
Get in the habit of not overly stressing about things that aren’t directly related to accomplishing your goal. Many people overly stress about their clothes, the right business card style, every single word in a speech, etc. Essentially, becoming obsessed with perfection and minutiae. Over-perfectionism will delay your time lines to success. Keeping it simple also applies to minimalism. To become super successful, less stressed, and avoid decision fatigue, strive for minimalism in all areas of your life. Less is more!

2. Use Discernment:
Each and every day we are confronted with many decisions that need to be made. The successful person knows how to prioritize decision making. Avoid becoming involved in any unnecessary or frivolous decision making. Be honest with yourself when you find yourself becoming mired in unimportant decision making (which color legal paper you are going to buy). It may be a sign you are avoiding an important, yet uncomfortable, decision that needs to be made or you are avoiding going for your goal all together.

3. Empower Not Disempower:
High achievers are naturally adept at problem solving and everyone around you is keenly aware of your ability to problem solve, take action and make decisions. And, they want your help to do the same for them. As achievers and entrepreneurs, we always want to go the extra mile for our families, friends, clients and coworkers. But, over-doing or doing what they are fully capable of doing for themselves, is not being of service. Rather than empowering them to achieve the results they want (and the self-esteem that goes along with it), it disempowers them. And, it also causes you brain drain.

4. Learn to Say No:
The best mentor I’ve ever had in my life taught me a very valuable lesson. She told me “Linda, no is a complete sentence. Practice it.” To avoid decision making fatigue, learn to say no — period. End of sentence. You do not have to give a defensive speech as why you’re saying no. Super successful people are very discerning with their time and energy. And, it’s not just from a time-management standpoint. It’s also from a Brain management standpoint.

They know they need to conserve their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy for what can positively contribute to outcomes in their own lives, others and the world.

5. Stay Focused on Your Master Goal:
For every single decision you need to make ask yourself these two very important questions 1) Is this decision going to take me closer to accomplishing my goal or further away from it? 2) Is this decision going to support my values or violate them?
If the answer to either is the latter, then you know it is not a sound decision and avoiding making an unsound decision will keep you on track to attain your goal and from going down a dark hole of having to make a whole bunch of future damage control decisions.

The super successful and super rich know that decision making fatigue is real. They create habits to avoid it to keep them on the path of productivity, innovation and success. President Obama for example says “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” And, Mark Zuckerberg is a well-known advocate of avoiding early morning frivolous decision making which he says leads him to making better decisions on things that really matter throughout the day.

In closing my shocking confession: I was an intern as a Marriage, Family, Child Counselor because my dream was to help people. I was so shocked when I learned I couldn’t help every person that came through my door. I learned that some people weren’t really ready to be helped and that I had to know when I was helping or actually hurting their chances of success. I quickly got myself into CODA (Codependency Anonymous) and learned how not to be an enabler. In order to help, I had to focus on taking on those who were willing to help themselves. I learned that saying “no” is sometimes the most compassionate thing to do in honor of being of service, both to others and to myself.