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The Secret to Decision-Making

February 4, 2020

Steve Nedvidek, retired Innovator in Residence at Chick-fil-A, describes Jimmy Collins as the greatest leader he’s ever encountered.

Jimmy Collins is the former president and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A who has dedicated his life to motivate and inspire leaders around the world. 

I recently met with Steve, and he shared a lesson he learned about decision-making while working with Jimmy Collins. 

As soon as I heard the phrase “decision-making,” my posture changed. I leaned in, grabbed my pen, and braced myself for the answer to the secret I’d been waiting years to uncover—how to make the best decisions. Because if I can I just make the right decisions, everything else will fall into place. Right?

Wrong. Well, sort of.

Jimmy Collins used to say,

“I’ve made a career not on making the right decisions, but on making the decisions I’ve made the right ones.”

So often people, especially leaders, fall into one of two camps in their approach to decision-making. One group is fixated on intuition, trusting their gut to make the best decision. While the other fully relies on data, analytics, and research to guide them. The problem doesn’t lie in the approaches but on these leaders’ fixation on making the right decision.

Thinking this way can lead to either pride or discouragement. Leaders can wrongly think that it was their good sense that made them successful, or they can wrongly be discouraged by an obstacle and quit too soon. The reality is that there might not be a right decision or a wrong decision. Maybe there’s just a decision to make, and it’s imperative to take a step forward.

Collins’ perspective of decision-making is refreshing. He’s saying that we may not know if we made the right decision, but once we’ve made it, we need to do whatever we can to make it work. 

Let me be clear. The decisions we make are not inconsequential. It’s important that we use our insights and intuition to try to make good choices. But at the end of the day, what we do once we’ve made a decision is what matters most.

So the next time you’re faced with a big decision, here’s my advice to you:

1. Decide: Take the step. Sign the contract. Have the courage to make the decision.

2. Commit: Once you’ve decided, see the decision through. Don’t waffle. Stick to it.

3. Grit: When it’s tough, keep going. Push through adversity. Overcome obstacles. Don’t quit.

Don’t let the fear of decision-making stop you from taking a step forward. It’s time to make your choice and get to work.


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