What’s The Most Important Decision You’ve Ever Made?
Life is about decisions. We all have typically made some good decisions, some bad decisions, some great decisions, some very poor, life changing decisions, and maybe some great life changing decisions. As we increase our number of trips around the sun, we gain more wisdom and sage that allows us to make more informed decisions. The fewer trips around the sun we have, the fewer the years of bad decisions we have to draw from to make more sound decisions.
If we have kids, we then begin to look at their decision making and work to help them make better decisions. Maybe it is giving them the choice of what to eat or drink, or which friend to hang out with, or which class to take or not take.
For me, I look at it through the practice of a “life rope”. I think about this for myself, my kids, or developing leaders in our practice or other organizations I work with. We have this nice thick white cotton rope that we place around our kid’s waist, or someone we are leading. The more decisions they make that are good, the more slack in the beautiful white cotton rope we give. For Nash and Mac, it simply starts with walking around the house as a toddler and what they could or couldn’t get into, then it progresses to maybe the choice of what they eat, the choice of clothes they wore for the day, then maybe who they invited over to stay the night or to a birthday party, and so on. Now it is driving a car…! Such that, the better decisions they make in all areas of life, the more they can drive themselves. Or, the better their lives revolve around school choices, grades, and friends, the more slack we give them to make more decisions with the beautiful white cotton rope around their waist.
You see, the rope is there so that if they make a bad decision, we can pull the slack out of the rope and “save them” from making a lethal decision. The goal is to give them just enough slack in the rope to “fail in their decision making from time to time” so they gain some bumps, bruises, scars, and even a laceration or two all while being under our roof and shepherding. We need them to fail while under our care or household, to build wisdom, character, perseverance, and improved decision making skills. We need them to learn to focus on understanding “doing what is right” vs “doing what feels good” while under our direct care.
At some point, they will fly away from our direct care, and we need to have the confidence that we pushed them to fail just enough to not be lethal to them, but enough to “know better” in many, many situations they will face on their own. You see, while they are under our direct care, we can pull the slack in the rope and save them from a lethal decision (most of the time), but when they are out of the house, you can’t.
These same rules apply to others that we love, lead, and are grooming in our family, the business world, teams of people, or teams of players. It is our duty as leaders to grow and nourish more leaders, and the only way we do that is by giving our people we are leading more slack in the rope in making decisions. We should be in the business of decentralizing decision making. If we as leaders are keeping all the decisions to be made and controlled by us, we are failing the next generation of leaders. This occurs slowly over time.
I have done this with my partner in our vet practice, Dr. Ty. Bit by bit, slowly but sure, over the last 5 years, I have given him more decisions to make. It isn’t just a one day event for Dr Ty or my kids, of “okay, today you make all your own decisions!” No, it occurs over time. For our kids, it occurs over 18 years. For grooming other leaders, it occurs over your own timeline, but I would say for it to be done very well, it is a minimum of 2-3 years.
Life is about decisions. The more we do, the more difficult decisions we can face not only about our own life, but about the lives of others. If you are making decisions that affect the lives of others, that must be done with the utmost humility and selflessness.
Life is about decisions. Our past decisions prepare us for the future, if we allow it.
Life is about decisions. We often like to make them for others, but we need to let them make decisions and it is our job to walk along their side and coach them the whole way. We don’t just give them slack and let go of that beautiful white cotton rope.
Life is about decisions. We should be in the business of decentralizing power, control, and decision making while constantly and continually coaching and building great kids and great teams of people capable of making great decisions. As you decide, focus on what is best, not what feels good