According to my experience as a person and as a coach, one of our greatest fears is to fail to make the RIGHT decision. Sometimes we do have the feeling being a donkey, that can’t decide between two haystacks and starves not being able to decide between the two. The irony is, that by postponing the decision we DO make a decision – namely, we decide to starve…
How many times in our life we have heard: „Be cautious, you can make the WRONG decision!“ We are afraid that the WRONG decision deprives us from the goodness of our lives: we could lose money, our loved ones, our status or whatever it is that the RIGHT decision would bring us.
In this unbeatable logic we do forget, that what once has been the WRONG decision was a valuable lesson in our life. So what we sometimes do is that before making a decision we get carried away by agonizing considerations which option to choose, trying to figure out all the consequences. After we have had make the decision we constantly recheck the options, asking ourselves whether THIS decision has been the RIGHT one.
“What if…”-thoughts block our thinking for other, new stuff, give the diffuse feeling of dissatisfaction and rob us of energy. If we get the anticipated result, we get excited (the RIGHT decision!), but only for a while. As we don’t know whether this decision has not been the WRONG decision after all in the end.
Does this crazy process sound familiar to you? When was the last time you have been on this rollercoaster of decision making?
There IS another way.
Do me a favor and imagine yourself at the point before an important decision. You have got two options, two ways before you. Option A. And option B. And both of them are correct. That’s right! Both options have the potential to bring you forward in life independent of the outcome. Along the way A OR along the way B there is a lot of lessons to learn, money to earn and friends to make…
With all of it being said – there ARE difficult situations which require a decision between two or more options.
What is the KEY element to resolve a difficult situation which requires a decision? AWARENESS. Awareness of what your goals are, which reality you are facing, what kind of options do you REALLY have at hand and what can you do about them.
These four components: GOALS, REALITY, OPTIONS and WAY forward are the basis of the GROW-model concept.
It may seem strange to set the goals before examining the reality. But: solutions based on the current reality alone focus on the problem or response to a problem, limited by past performance. Goals formed by exploring the ideal long-term solution and then determining realistic steps toward that ideal goal are generally far more inspiring and motivating.
So, for example, if you sit together with your team or your partner to decide on how to deal with a problem define the ideal outcome of your meeting first. It might be: “At the end of the meeting I would like to have clarity around …”
After we have defined our ideal goal, we need to get clear about the REALITY, about the current situation. To explore the reality objectively use interrogatives such as WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHO and HOW to question yourself or members of the team.
For example, “What has prevented you from delivering …” NOT “Why didn’t you deliver …”. The last question forces the person to defensiveness and doesn’t deliver the objective information you are seeking.
Another example: a friend of yours might say “I really eat too much chocolate. I should quit eating sweets.” You might want then to ask him “How much chocolate do you eat in a day?”. This would cause your friend to deliver a figure and it might be an inconvenient insight for him.
BUT: by this you have created AWARENESS of the real situation.
The purpose of the OPTIONS stage is not to find the “right” answer but to create a list of as many alternative choices of action as possible.
In many cases, especially in the business world we will see in front of us or hear from others many obstacles and reasons why something CAN’T be done. For example:
- HE would never agree
- The competition must have already thought of that
and more of the same…
At this stage of the decision making process it IS important to play the “What if” game. For example:
- What if he agrees?
- What if that obstacle did not exist?
New alternatives help us to expand our mind and to change the focus beyond the usual restrictions of the past.
The last step: WAY forward has the purpose to convert the discussion of options into a decision.
Through discussion of the options in the previous stage we now should have a more clearer picture on what can be done. Now it is time to ask: what WILL be done? Again, to make your decision clear and your action plan concrete you might want to ask:
- WHAT will we do?
- WHEN will we do it?
- WHO needs to know?
- HOW will we know that we have reached our goal?
So, for example: if you are still in discussion with your friend about why he or she doesn’t quit eating chocolate you might come to…
- WHAT will I do? „I will lose weight by eating 1 chocolate bar per day, not 3.“
- WHEN will I do it? „I will start today.“
- WHO needs to know? „Everybody! to create social pressure.“
- HOW will I know that I have reached my goal? „By eating 1 chocolate bar per day, not 3, I will lose 10 pounds in 12 month. I will write in my diary daily about my performance to make sure I stay on track.“
In 4 steps: GOAL setting, REALITY check, OPTIONS list and WAY forward activity we have created a realistic and measurable action plan.