Your Decisions Determine Where You End Up

Your decisions determine where you end up. The statement seems like an obvious statement, but the reason that your decisions determine where you end up is not as obvious as most people think. Most of us have the impression that you have a chance to make a couple of massive decisions that will make or break your life. These significant decisions could be where you go to university, who you marry, what first job you take, and more. But the truth is: any big decision that you make probably doesn’t affect your life any more than any of the small decisions that you make. It is the SUM of your decisions that change your life.

A Decision is Neither Good Nor Bad

We love to play armchair quarterback to decisions that other people make. Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, made what people call “the worst play call ever” that lost the Seahawks the 2015 Superbowl. But it wasn’t the worst play call ever. It was a fine play-call. If they had caught the ball, they would have won the game. But the ball was intercepted. As Pete Carroll says: “It was the worst result of a call ever.”[See video of the interview] A decision is neither right nor wrong, but the result will move you towards your goal or away from it.

Take Responsibility For the Results

There are a couple of lessons to learn about decision making. It doesn’t matter what decision you make; you have to take responsibility for the results of it. If you make the best strategic business move ever, and it results in a loss for the shareholder, you need to take responsibility for the results. You make your decision based on all of the information that you have at the time, and it either works out or not. Either way, you need to make another decision in a short while: again based on all of the information that you have at the time. No matter what happens, don’t say that the decision was good or bad. Say that you are going to work with the results (take responsibility) and make a more significant impact. It doesn’t matter if you are at rock bottom, or on a rocket-ship up, you should always be focusing on making a bigger and better impact.

Don’t Make Fatal Decisions

Avoid making decisions that could have a fatal outcome. This isn’t always possible. At some point, you might have to jump from a burning platform. But most of the time, making an all-or-nothing bet is not necessary. If you are making a life-or-death decision, ask yourself if you are ready to take responsibility for a decision that kills you (or your company, or your family, or your office culture – whatever the decision is about.) If you aren’t ready to take the responsibility that this could be the end, find a different choice that you are willing to take responsibility for.

Your Decisions Determine Where You End Up

Thinking that a big decision is going to make or sink your life is approaching life from a closed mindset. A closed mindset says that everything is set in stone and nothing can be changed. In this world, the outcome of the big decision is pre-set. You have to choose the right big decisions to make, and you will have success. It is a little bit like choosing the right doors at a game show in the hopes that it will reveal your prize.

It is your everyday decisions that shape your life. Every time you make a small decision to avoid risk, you start to lean towards the risk avoidance side. If you make a small decision to ignore user feedback, eventually you are a self-centred software company. As you are making your small decisions, even if you proclaim that you are no longer going to avoid risk, or will listen to the user more, it won’t work. It won’t make a significant change. You can make a big decision, but that will only offset all of your little decisions a small bit. You will still be on the risk-avoidance side.

The good news is that you can change your position just by changing the small decisions that you make. Instead of focusing on perfect product releases, you could focus on small bits of revenue more. The change in focus could change your company from one that loses money to making money. A decree that you will now charge $1000 more because your product is so good won’t work. But a constant reminder to developers that they are trying to make $2 per day more from the code they produce will eventually get your coders all coding in the same direction: towards revenue (which is a response that customers want what you are selling rather than to perfect product (which is a self-serving approach that you take for bragging rights.

Your decisions determine where you end up.

Take responsibility for your decisions. Recognize that there are no good or bad decisions, just decisions that you made with the information and wisdom you had at the time. And recognize that your destination is the result of all of your small decisions, not a couple of major decisions.