• Amy Clark

Some Decisions are Just Bad

If you are human, you will make a bad decision. No matter how hard you labor over the pros and cons, seek advisement, study and research; inevitably there will be a time you stamp the decision and quickly realize you made a mistake.

I struggle to buy furniture, it feels like such a commitment, you know a whole ten years I may have to live with a choice of what I will sit on daily. Quite silly really when many of my other choices have much higher stakes. Well, I consulted my grandma when I needed some advice on this chair purchase, maybe not my best decision since she was still in her floral stage.

What do we often do after realizing we have made a mistake? We seek to make the best of the decision and find ways to tolerate the fallout. We make it work even if we see that it takes us off the path towards our vision. We face the consequences of our decision and suffer through it. After all, we have already invested so much in the pre-decision effort and the monetary cost is sunk, so might as well make lemons into lemonade, right? Even if it is lemonade that is watered down and warm from the neighborhood lemonade stand. It is just fine, (cue fake smile) this is tolerable because it was a decision made with good process and intentions.

Luckily, I know how to sew which was how I temporarily found my way out of this bad decision, I covered it up. Not just once, but twice I had to make slipcovers because we wore them out (notice what happens when you cover things up, they are still there). I have spent almost ten years hating this chair every day; it locked me into a style I didn’t want to carry throughout my home.

  • Why do we hold onto the yuck when the outcome of our decision is bad?

  • What if we could cut our losses and pivot back towards our vision, even if it is hard in the short-term?

If I were to engage my analyst to compare the costs over time of cutting our losses and trying a redo vs. the loss of drifting away from our vision towards a completely different reality, I would venture to guess I might gain the courage to accept the short-term losses and try again.

Giving ourselves a chance at round two, sounds better when we have logical data to back it up. The key is finding the balance of data, forgiveness and appreciation for our original vision that will give us the push we need to give ourselves another chance to get it right.

Friends, it takes awareness, humility, courage, and a bit of faith to try again after the little mistakes, and especially after the big ones. Do not to let a mistake hold you back enough to derail you. Hit the reset button and trust that you are smart, resilient and capable of figuring out a new solution. Believe that you can because your bigger vision is worth the comeback.

Four steps to shift out of the grips of a bad decision:

1. Own It. Yes, you made the decision, no matter how many people you involved to help you make it, ultimately you said go. Acknowledge it didn’t work, why it didn't work, and then allow space for those involved to share how they have been impacted. This includes making things right with people, with the checking account, or whatever that may look like for your scenario.

2. Let It Go. If you don’t fully let the mistake go, it will carry over to your next decision. Whether it be a cloud of regret, or a perceived limiting of options, moving on will be impaired if you can’t get past the mistake. If you need to clean up a mess, clean it up; if you need to physically get rid of something, get rid of it; do what is necessary to bring closure to the mistake.

3. Pivot. Now that you have owned it and let go of it, you are ready to shift to what's next. Put on a new set of goggles as you reset your view and get back on track. Log what set you off course last time, but don’t let that take over your next decision. It is part of the knowledge you need moving forward, but not the driver, the driver is your vision which is fueled by your purpose.

4. Leap Again. Hey, now you know what it is like to mess up and live through it, so grab onto that confidence and get excited to take on the next decision. And maybe as you take more leaps, you’ll find yourself getting better at acting from your place of purpose while keeping your eye on the vision.

Final Thoughts:

  • Our imperfections and mistakes make for great stories down the road, reasons to laugh at ourselves, opportunities to learn, and a base for wisdom to form.

  • Kids, team members and leaders need to learn that resilience doesn’t get stronger with only right steps, it’s the wrong ones that teach us valuable lessons that will stick. (it's good to mess up sometimes)

  • Don’t let a bad decision hold too much power over your life, remember you can own it, let go of it, and pivot your direction.

  • When you can learn to take your mistakes in stride, it gives other people permisison to bravely do the same and know they will be supported when they inevitably make one too.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” —Maya Angelou.

Go take on your day and awaken your potential! I'm going chair shopping.


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