Making decisions can sometimes be the most difficult thing for me. I am an individual plagued with self-doubt and fear. As a result, I find myself seeking advice from all sorts of people. In one sense this is good. The wise person has many counselors. Still, I find that I’m not always looking for advice. I’m usually looking for permission or for someone else to make my decisions for me…please, tell me what to do. These are not the prominent traits of a leader. While leaders have advisors, they also make their own decisions.
Fear Fuels Indecision
I have to admit that my indecision is often fueled by fear. I’m afraid that I’ll make the wrong decision. I fear that I will set myself on a course that will have ramifications I won’t be able to live with. Now, fear is not an abnormal thing. In fact, it is wired into our DNA. We were created with a capacity for many emotions, all which serve a purpose. Fear is one of those emotions. It is appropriate to fear the heat of a fire. Doing so keeps us from being burned. It is appropriate to fear justice. Doing so keeps us from breaking laws – at least it should.
When it is disproportionate to the risks involved, fear is inappropriate. We should never allow it to paralyze us. Leaders must be willing to take risks. They must be able to understand the level of risk involved, measure it against potential gains, and take action. Let’s face it, most of our decisions are not that risky. The ones that involve a lot of risks also involve a lot of potential rewards. So what are we afraid of? What am I afraid of?
When it comes right down to it, most of us who deal with indecision are afraid of failure.
We are afraid to make the wrong decision at work. What will our bosses say? How will they react to our failure? Will we get fired? Will we get put on the “not ready for promotion” list?
We are also afraid of messing up our future and the future of our family. If I take this action and fail, will I be able to care for my family? Will I be able to send my kids to school, stay in the same house, retire at a reasonable age?
So, we seek advice. Doing so allows us to appear wise while we delay making a decision. We ask someone else to make the decision. It won’t go bad if they think we should do it, and if it does, it’s not our fault.
The mind is a fascinating thing. It is amazing to me at how much of its power we use to avoid making decisions. Imagine if we put that power to use in taking actions, moving forward, building and growing. What kind of amazing things could we do? We’ll never know if we don’t overcome fear.
How to Overcome Fear Fueled Indecision
How do you overcome fear? Here are some tips for you and me to practice.
- Remember to put the risk in perspective – it is not as great as you are imagining
- Remember that failure is actually a blessing – we learn and grow more from failure than from success.
- Remember to be courageous – this is what separates leaders from everyone else
The last point is important. Just as we were given the emotion of fear, we were also given the emotion of courage. In fact, the two are designed to work together. Proper fear gives us a healthy perspective on the situation. It makes us pause long enough to consider how to proceed and to plan actions to mitigate the risk.
Courage gives us the fortitude we need to move forward even when we know that we have no guarantee of success. A leader is able to make decisions even when there are unknown or unmitigated risks. They can do this because they are courageous. The only way to become courageous it to practice and grow.
When I make that hard decision, setting in motion a series of events I can’t control, I’m being courageous, I’m growing. And even if it is the wrong decision, even if it has massive ramifications, unless it kills me, I can learn and grow from it. That’s another aspect of leadership – growing.
Leaders are not stagnated in their self-development. Leaders are continuously growing. The only way they are doing that is by moving forward, taking risks, and failing. What they are not doing is giving in to the paralyzing power of fear.
How do you fight fear so that you can make tough decisions? We’d love to know. Leave a comment below. Let’s talk about it.