Leaders Don’t Make Feel Good Decisions

Leaders today are getting smashed with work. There is more to do than time available, everyone wants a piece of you, and time seems to evaporate into thin air. For a leader to navigate through overload and execute strategy is not simply a question of time management, but rather their ability to discern between logical and emotional decision making.

In the 1980s and 1990s multitasking was the top time-management tip. You were taught to chunk your work into timed blocks and order your day like a military operation. In 1984, Steven Covey inspired us to do ‘first things first’ and decipher between the urgent and important tasks, followed by Brian Tracey (in 2001) who explained that we should ‘eat that frog’ and do the most difficult things first as the best way to stop procrastination and get more done.  in 2007, Tim Ferriss published the game changing philosophy of the ‘4 hour work week’ challenging us to outsource, streamline and muse our way to success.

Whilst all these philosophies have sold thousands of books, courses and speeches, and extoll practical advice that has saved people so much time, cut down stress, and increased productivity, you are probably still sitting there, even as you read this article, wondering how you are going to get everything done without burning yourself out?

The underlying problem here is not the shuffling of time, but rather the allocation of attention. Decisions determine where your attention goes, for how long, and what tasks you will do. A good decision making philosophy is like having an experienced captain at the helm of a ship who is able to  navigate the ocean and arrive at the destination with minimal exertion and disruption.

Creel Price launched his first business at age 11 selling strawberries in rural New South Wales. In fact, he launched a total of eight businesses by the time he left school and a further two at university, and, at age 25, he co-founded Blueprint Management Group with just $5,000 in capital, without any follow on investment, until they exited a decade later for $109 million. Creel and his business partner built one of Australia’s fastest growing companies (BRW Fast 100) in the marketing, e-commerce, call center and data analytics sectors. Creel credits a major contributor of his success to the art of ‘Decisionship’. He feels that ‘the ability to make better, faster decisions without the angst, is key to success’ [1].

When you are being bombarded with volumes of work, your decisions are influenced by time urgency, personal standards, management expectation, and team time frames. Your decisions are now tainted by these pressures and stresses which drive you to make more emotionally based decisions, instead of logical ones.

When your decisions are driven by emotion (such as stress, anxiety, or adrenaline), then you are more likely to create short term solutions, handle too much yourself (instead of delegating) and react to whatever is the most urgent emergency to fix.

To be time effective, especially in a leadership role, you need to be ruthless about where you give your attention. You need to value your attention like a drowning man would treat oxygen.

This will require you to instill the resilience value of disciplined thinking. That is, determining whether you are making decisions from a hedonistic, emotionally driven, ‘what will feel good’ or ‘how can I get rid of this stress’ point of view, or whether you are thinking from a logical, values based, big picture and clear minded viewpoint.

It is the wrestle between focusing on what I need to do in this situation versus focusing on what will make me feel good/better in this situation.

In Detroit, Michigan, at the ‘Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy’ [2], Sharath Jason Wilson uses martial arts to teach boys how to be mentally strong and hold high standards of behavior, values and morals when life around them is tough. Jason provides an environment where boys can experience the value of using perseverance and tenacity to guide their decision making process in training and in life.

Watch this video of a training session of how Jason guides a young boy when he is confronted with emotion and resistance:

It’s a tough lesson and it hurts to see the boy cry, but if the boy would have made a hedonistic decision, he would never learn the value of pushing through when things get tough. By learning the process of disciplined decision making, it helped this boy develop a resilient mindset that drives him into action, as opposed to doing only what feels good right now.

When you step up into any leadership role, you will be confronted with tough decisions that will shake your emotions and drive up your stress. You will need to quickly get into the practice of deciding who is driving your ship – your emotions or your logic.

©  Michael Licenblat    All rights reserved.


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