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Top-Shelf Tip No. 238:

"On an important decision, one rarely has 100 percent of the information needed for a good decision, no matter how much one spends or how long one waits. And, if one waits too long, he has a different problem and has to start all over."

Benjamin E. Mays

The Decision To Make Before Making Decisions

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, is wildly successful. He's one of the few people whose accomplishments don't need to be listed to prove this point. Although success at his level can't be boiled down to a single decision, Bezos maintains that one of his philosophies is to simply contribute to the success of Amazon and himself. To do so, he refrains from deliberating over decisions that are easily reversible.

Many leaders place equal weight on every decision. Why? Because they don't ever want to be wrong. But there are times when the opportunity cost of the time it takes to make the decision is greater than the cost of reversing a wrongful decision. In these cases, simply make the decision and move on. To identify positive decisions from those that may pose detriment, Bezos relies largely on his own intuition— with heavy emphasis on customer service.

A recent post by leadership author Jeff Haden detailed this philosophy and offered insight as to why it works. According to Bezos, Haden says there are two fundamental types of decisions, which we'll explain in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Decision 1: Almost impossible to reverse. These are the decisions that require close deliberation. These are the "one-way doors," things like quitting a job or selling your company. Once these decisions are made, they're final, and cannot be undone. Take these very seriously.

Decision 2: Easy to reverse. These decisions are the "two-way doors," such as starting a freelance gig or introducing a new pricing schema. When in the thick of decision-making, these choices may feel momentous, but with a little time and effort, they can be reversed. Think about it: if you're unsatisfied with the freelance gig, you can stop. This gig is not your full-time job and does not hold nearly as much weight. Similarly, if the new pricing schema proves ineffective, you can transition back to the old method. These decisions do not pose serious outcomes or challenges, but rather, they demonstrate experimentation with other opportunities and strategies.

Unfortunately, it's easy to confuse the two, and treating all decisions as if they are impossible to reverse leads to paralysis that makes it hard to make any decisions at all, especially as organizations grow larger. "The end result of this," Bezos said in a shareholder letter, "is slowness, unthoughtful risk aversion, failure to experiment sufficiently and consequently diminished invention. We'll have to figure out how to fight that tendency."

According to Haden, every successful person has made mistakes, and invention and failure are inseparable. He concludes that making reversible decisions faster won't necessarily guarantee success, but not deciding at all is almost a guarantee for failure— and not deciding is a decision in itself.

Source: Jeff Haden is a speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn influencer, contributing writer to Inc. and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win .

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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