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  • Writer's pictureJamie Gustafson

The Power of Fast Decision-Making in Business

Updated: Jun 16

The ability to make quick and effective decisions can set you apart in the world of business. For some, this comes naturally, while others may struggle with the anxiety of making the wrong choice. Here, I want to share my experience and insights on how decision-making has been a crucial part of my professional success and how you can harness this skill to drive your business forward.

The Importance of Decisive Action

I've always known I had a knack for decision-making and taking action. However, I didn't realize this wasn't a natural ability for everyone. Don't get me wrong; I have my failures. My dancing resembles Elaine Benes (if you know, you know), and my baking almost always ends in disaster. But the ability to act decisively has driven my business mind for the last 20 years.

Even during boot camp, I was entrusted with the role of dorm guard monitor, responsible for assigning shifts to ensure the dorm's safety and security. We had to follow strict protocols and were often tested. Many nights, a pounding knock at 3 am would wake everyone up. This wasn't our instructor but the man in charge of the entire facility, demanding to be let in. The Airman on duty would follow the script, asking for credentials, but the intensity of the situation would often lead to panic. 

One night, an Airman ran to me in tears, unsure of what to do. As I hurriedly got dressed, I told her to breathe and take it step by step. 

I grabbed the rules and showed her where the process was. We took it line by line; there was no need to rush. We were the ones to make the decision. 

Despite the man's threats, I encouraged her to stick to the protocol and ask for his ID again. After 30 minutes of tense back-and-forth, he finally complied, and we passed the test. She was exhausted and frustrated, struggling to remember each step in the heat of the moment and believing she was the one failing. 

These moments allow me to step up and lead with composure. Although this was just boot camp, and real-world challenges awaited, it remains a memorable experience. Even now, I encounter instances where I see sheer panic in someone's eyes and ponder the source of their anxiety. We can never truly understand the turmoil in another person's mind. I, too, sometimes struggle with my own inner noise. Nonetheless, I feel empowered by making decisions and moving forward. The environments in which I work and the people I work for grant me the autonomy to make choices, which is vital. To keep progress steady, it is essential to give people the freedom to act.

Decision-Making as a Skill

Many people mistakenly believe that decision-making is purely an innate talent. However, I believe it is a skill that can be developed and honed over time. Here are some strategies that have helped me become more decisive:

  1. Stay Informed: Knowledge is power. The more information you have about a situation, the better equipped you are to make a sound decision.

  2. Trust Your Instincts: While data and analysis are important, sometimes your gut feeling can guide you in the right direction.

  3. Break it Down: Large decisions can be overwhelming. Break them into smaller, manageable steps to make the process more approachable.

  4. Learn from Experience: Reflect on past decisions, both good and bad. Understanding what worked and what didn’t can provide valuable insights for future choices.

Creating an Environment for Decision-Making

In my 20 years of business, I've found that the environment plays a significant role in fostering decisiveness. Here are some ways to create a conducive environment for making quick decisions:

  • Empower Your Team: Give your team the autonomy to make decisions. This not only speeds up the process but also builds their confidence.

  • Encourage Open Communication: A culture where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts can lead to better-informed decisions.

  • Provide Support and Resources: Ensure that your team has the tools and information they need to make educated decisions swiftly.

Understanding and Managing Decision-Making Anxiety

It's important to recognize that decision-making can cause anxiety for many. I've seen the panic in people's eyes when they're faced with tough choices, and I've felt it myself. Managing this anxiety is crucial for maintaining clarity and composure. Here are some tips:

  • Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome: Concentrate on making the best possible decision with the information available, rather than worrying about the result.

  • Breathe and Take a Moment: Sometimes, a few deep breaths can help clear your mind and reduce anxiety.

  • Seek Input: Don't hesitate to ask for advice or opinions from others. Collaboration can often lead to better decisions.

Fast decision-making is a powerful tool in business. It allows you to seize opportunities, mitigate risks, and keep moving forward. Developing this skill, creating a supportive environment, and managing anxiety, you can enhance your ability to make effective decisions quickly.

If you want to keep the ball moving in your business, start by empowering yourself and your team to make confident decisions. Remember, it's not just about making the right choice—it's about having the courage to make a choice and move forward.

Share your experiences and tips on decision-making in the comments below. Let's learn and grow together!

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