Make the Wise Choice

Fifth in a series excerpted from his book FOSTERING CULTURE, A Leader’s Guide to Purposefully Shaping Culture

by Shane Jackson

I seem to face questions daily where there is no right answer.

The hard decisions (and the ones that are most frequent) are the ones that are not between good and bad or right and wrong, but between good and better or bad and worse. They are not black and white, but varying shades of gray.

Faced with these decisions, asking ourselves, “What is the right thing to do?” is not helpful. What we need in that moment is not a moral compass to help choose right.

What we need is wisdom.

Wisdom necessarily involves taking long-term ramifications into consideration—how this decision will impact the future.

It involves considering consequences—thinking through what may happen as a result of this action.

Wisdom is the ability to take our knowledge, experience, understanding and insight — and use good judgment to best apply them to decision-making, choosing an action that will lead to the most desirous outcome over time.

Here is a short way to help you think wisely when faced with decisions:

“Ten years from now, what will I wish I had done?” 

The idea is to think of your future self looking back on this decision and evaluating if you made the right choice. This question forces you to think about long-term consequences, how you hope to exist in the future, and how this decision will impact that existence.

The more responsibility you have, the more people you lead, the more resources you oversee, the more complex and the less clear these decisions become.

We make business decisions daily that call for wisdom. It seems like so many of them revolve around people. Should I insist on a deadline that the team thinks will be hard to hit? Should I confront my boss with something I think she did wrong? Which customer’s order should I work on first? Should I promote that salesperson to manager?

Sometimes giving teams lofty goals brings out the best in them, and sometimes it demoralizes them. Sometimes confronting a person directly brings the best outcome, and sometimes it is better to go with an intermediary. One customer may have a more lucrative order but may not take priority over a customer that has been more valuable over the long term. And discerning if a salesperson will be successful as a sales manager requires Solomon-esque levels of wisdom.

It takes wisdom to know which action to take to achieve a goal, and it also takes wisdom to determine which goals are worth achieving.

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