The courage to decide

Before others decide for you

The moment when it comes to taking a decision is pivotal.

The sooner the better. But how exactly do we find the right moment? Well, for example when our values are being encroached upon. Having our values breached consciously or subconsciously triggers a decision-making process. To be able to control this, we need to know our values in order to define limitations in situations that call for a decision, and to act upon that.

Ap Dijksterhuis, Amsterdam University and others

"The point is to ask the right question from the start."

Ap Dijksterhuis, Amsterdam University and others

Yet complex decisions are very rarely spontaneous decisions. They tend to come about through a decision-making process. And for this it is crucial to focus the question at the start of this decision-making process not only on YES or NO as possible answers. Even though such a – closed – formulation of a question is easier to understand and more specific, it excludes more favourable alternatives. Formulating an open question like "Which alternatives do I have?", or "What other possible decisions are there?" opens the perspective for further decision-making options. Yet a further principle should apply when doing so:

As many possibilities as possible, as few as necessary.

In a first step this is not about taking decisions that can be implemented. It is about finding possibilities, no matter how unreasonable they may seem. In a second step you review these possibilities based on obstacles you can imagine. This may include legal, personal, moral or practical obstacles. How likely is it that these obstacles will occur? What can you do to remove these obstacles? What is the wish behind this crazy possibility? Formulating an open question in this manner allows us to create space for taking decisions with courage.

Fear is not the opposite of courage, on the contrary.

Decisions require courage. After all, a decision also means that we part with other alternatives. This, in turn, may trigger the fear of loss. It is a fact that fear is the most common cause for decisions that were taken too late. Even if fear is not a good advisor, it lies dormant in each and every one of us to a varying degree. On top of this, it is an emotion. And emotions play a major role in taking decisions. Science has proven the prevailing understanding that facts, figures and information alone are factored into corporate decision-making to be incorrect. Research demonstrates that decisions without emotion are impossible. The awareness of emotions that play a role in finding a decision allows us to question, review and manage them. Without this awareness emotions control our decisions subconsciously.

Fear, too, is an emotion that inevitably impacts decisions. And in such a case, fear is not the opposite of courage. On the contrary. Fear protects us from being overconfident when coming to a decision by consciously or subconsciously weighing the risks against the warning signs. However, such fear must not inhibit the decision-making process. Fears should therefore transform into respect. By gathering all the required information, we can defy them all. Or by becoming aware of our "long-term" objective, because far too often difficult decisions are based on short-term goals. Our wishes, dreams and visions, however, guide us in taking important decisions and give us strength to take a decision. After all: »Courage is the strength to take a decision and to change.«

Ultimately, experience has shown that only few decisions taken throughout our life are finite; usually, we can change a situation by taking a new decision. It is therefore irrelevant whether we take the wrong or the right decision. It is much more important that we ourselves decide. Hence, »Make a decision before others decide for you.«

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About Stefan Hagen:

Be courageous. Decide. Do. Stefan Hagen had to and wanted to do this throughout his life over and again. Both professionally and personally. The coach, presenter and encourager known in Germany from the television programme Hagen hilft! knows what he is talking about. He inspires people to think and change the way they think. Because he asks the right questions: What is that we wish to gain from life? What is success? Also, because he has the answers that encourage people to take decisions, to act, and to take the initiative. He motivates and inspires others. All while lastingly changing their attitude.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.

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