Balancing Speed & Adaptability: Mastering Decision-Making in the Modern World

On the topic of decision-making, Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill offered this hard and fast rule:

“Successful people make decisions quickly (as soon as all the facts are available) and change them very slowly (if ever). Unsuccessful people make decisions very slowly, and change them often and quickly.”

Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is one of the best-selling self-help guides of all time.

Yet, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk asserts that changing one’s mind is a sign of wisdom. He says,

“Most people fear changing their mind because they are worried about people’s judgment… Changing your mind is a strength. New data, new decisions.”

Vaynerchuck, known to his 40+ million social media subscribers for his entrepreneurial prowess, has written 4 New York Times bestselling books on business in the last 15 years.

Could it be that the world has changed so much since Think and Grow Rich was published in 1937? There’s certainly something to be said for that – information is becoming more and more available every day, and the world is changing faster than it ever has.

But still, Hill’s words have weight. These two ideas seem to represent the leader’s decision-making dilemma: decide quickly and firmly to show stability, or allow room for change if new information comes along?

As you know, leaders have no shortage of decisions they must make, even daily. And their choices have the potential to impact many more than just themselves: their team members, other groups within the organization, and the organization itself. That kind of pressure can make the leadership decision dilemma even more pronounced.

So, if you find yourself at a crossroads, here are ten questions to ask to help you streamline your decision-making process:

  1. What is the problem? Before making a decision, leaders should not just be aware of the matter at hand, but the issue at heart. By choosing one of two or more solutions we are making value judgments regarding priorities.
  2. What do we need to know about the problem? No choice gets made in a vacuum. What is the context of your decision? What is its significance? What is its potential impact? 
  3. What options do we have for solving the problem? As you are gathering information and planning to problem-solve, discuss the decision with relevant individuals and experts with a variety of perspectives.
  4. What are the pros and cons for each possible solution? Consider the potential impact of each option – feasibility, cost, risk, timeframe, etc., in the long term and the short term. Use your emotional intelligence to factor in the impact on your team, as well.
  5. What is the best option given my priorities? Of course, there comes a time when fact-finding and deliberation must give way to action. Make the decision based on your evaluation.
  6. Who should know about this decision? As leaders, our decisions can impact many. Whose roles and responsibilities are affected by your decision? Clearly communicate your decision with them, explain your rationale, and address any questions or concerns.
  7. How does this decision need to be implemented? In other words, what does the decision look like in action? What does it practically change? Begin making changes and assigning responsibilities based on the decision.
  8. What was the outcome? Consider the results of your decision. How accurate was your evaluation? What was different from what you anticipated? What was as expected? And what, if anything, could you have done differently to get closer to the ideal outcome?
  9. What needs to be changed? Mr. Hill may have written that successful people rarely change their minds, but at the heart of Think and Grow Rich is an understanding of conviction – successful people know what is important to them and make their decisions accordingly. If a decision can be adjusted to better support the organization’s priorities, it should be.
  10. What can I learn? Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “Experience isn’t the best teacher – evaluated experience is.” When we take time to reflect on the process, the decision, and its results, we can improve our method of decision making every time.

What’s your biggest decision-making challenge?

Like many leaders, do you struggle with option fatigue? Analysis paralysis?

Take the weekend to consider what holds you back – and then practice the 10 questions on your decision roadblock!

That’s all for now! 🙂

Become your best version,


P.S. Do you know someone dealing with a major decision right now? Feel free to send them these tips – hopefully they can be of some help!

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