We make them many times, every day.
Big or small, we inevitably spend some time asking ourselves; Is this the right choice? Can I do better?
In the end, no matter how much thinking I put into a problem, or how many angles and perspectives I consider when attempting to resolve a situation, I can’t avoid the decision. I have to make the best choice I can with the information I have.
It is something I am learning as a leader.
It’s vital to gather as much information as possible to support making a decision. Timing, as they say, is everything. Gathering information cannot override making a decision. Decisions must be made.
To make sound decisions, I must be open to listening, hearing, asking, seeing as many sides of the issue as possible. And in that process, I must trust that whatever the decision, I am doing my best.
The challenge is, whatever the decision it will probably not sit well with some. I must choose for the well-being of the many.
And that can be hard for a veteran people-pleaser.
I want to believe that whatever I’m doing, people will buy into it. They will see I am acting with good intent. That it is a decision not made lightly, or without thought of all the consequences.
But sometimes, people can’t see that. They can only see from their perspective. Through their lens, which is filtered through their feelings, experiences, beliefs, history.
When I first stepped into this role of being Interim Executive Director at the family homeless shelter where I work, a very dear friend said to me, “It’s lonely at the top. No matter what the situation, the final decision is yours.” He went on to add, “You won’t be able to please all of the people all of the time. You have to become comfortable with that.”
My friend was right.
Awhile ago, there was an incident that required very difficult decisions. No matter what I chose, lives would be impacted.
I had to choose the best thing for the many, which though difficult to see for the one most impacted, was the right thing for all.
We cannot see what we do not know and what we know is always grounded in what we see as true.
When we are in pain, when fear is riding roughshod over our state of mind, it is hard to see alternatives and possibilities from where we stand mired in fear.
With our brains contracted by thoughts of all that can go wrong, of all that has gone wrong, of all that is wrong in whatever the situation, we focus on the darkness creating worst case stories that block our view of the possibilities that exist, even in the darkness. Seeing only catastrophe, we, leave ourselves with few options other than to stand still, run away, fight back or give in.
There is a fifth dimension.
When we acknowledge our lizard brain, or critter as I like to call him, is limiting our view, we create space for our higher thinking to step in.
When we breathe through our fear of whatever’s going on, of making a wrong move or upsetting everyone with our choices, we create space for all of our higher thinking to turn up. In that space, we are free to engage with our brain’s higher functioning capabilities, awakening our capacity for whole-brain thinking, judgement and thoughtful action to take hold. No longer fearing we are enough, or are ‘wrong’, we see the possibilities to create better. We see pathways we’ve never seen before and options we’ve never considered.
In that place, we are able to make choices based on possibility not fear, to see opportunity not dead-ends and to embrace hope not hopelessness. In that place, we are able to make the best decisions we can without fearing our decisions are wrong, because we know it’s not about right and wrong, it’s about trusting in ourselves.
In that place we can act compassionately, with integrity, even in the midst of pain and fear.
I am learning to let go of my fear of making decisions that impact other people’s lives. It’s an essential part of becoming a leader.
it’s been a beautiful, challenging and growth-filled journey, not without its ups and downs. Always with its possibilities because what I’ve learn is key to living my life with integrity, compassion and joy. What I’ve learn is: doing my best has to be enough.