Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bad Decisions - 3 Steps to Overcome Them

There are few things in life I dislike more than making a bad decision.  My Human Resources work allows me to deal with other's bad decisions.  But when they are mine, it's a whole different story.  I absolutely loathe making bad decisions.


Now for a bit of self-disclosure...sometimes I like it when it's all about me.  But not when I'm the one who messed up.  Not when others realize I've stumbled and am now reaching for a towel to wipe the egg off my face. 

really loathe making bad decisions.


The results of these decisions can stay with us.  Sometimes, for a long time.  Can you remember a decision you made as a child that you still regret today?  (Yeah, me too - rock through the garage window - ouch!).  Unfortunately for those of us in leadership we can not afford to allow our missteps to haunt us for very long.  The reason is simple - our employees are watching, our peers are watching, our customers are watching.  We are there to lead, not feel sorry for ourselves.

Replaying mistakes over and over in our minds will only destroy our concentration, and thus our ability to be effective.  Mistakes are part of life, and demonstrate to those around us that we're real people just like they are.  The difference is how we handle our mistakes.


Dealing with mistakes involves reclaiming control.  These three steps serve as the foundation for taking control back, and moving beyond our blunders.

1  Confront It

Do not shrink away from your mistake.  Acknowledge it, define it, and understand whether or not you have any control.  If you can not control what is happening now, LET IT GO.  Stop dwelling on it, and move on.

2  Organize and Respond to What We Learned in Step 1

We can not change the past.  We can not control what others think of us.  However, we CAN control how we respond.  And we certainly can do a great deal to affect the future.  So define what you need to do to get back on track, and take action.  Organizing our response in small (realistic) steps will dramatically increase the likelihood of success.

3  Believe You Will Get Past This

There is no special leadership magic here.  Decide you can get past your mistake, accept the fact that you made an error, and move forward.  No wallowing in self-pity allowed.  (More self-disclosure -> that is hard for me to do.)


What decisions have you made that still haunt you?  Are you ready to let them go and move forward?  Or, do you glance around your office and greet those ghosts as you begin your day?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

pics courtesy of mychinaconnection.com and  www.zazzle.com


  1. I am one of the worst I know when it comes to self-flagellation. I still find myself mulling over mistakes from far further in the past than I care to admit.

    For me, it's not about suffering through it again, though. It's more about understanding what went wrong and being sure that particular misstep doesn't happen again.

  2. Thanks Dwane. You make a great point. Moving forward should involve learning too. Avoiding those mistakes the second time around is so important.