Setting: An afternoon, not too long ago. I’m sitting at my desk. Payment from my last paying customer arrived today. I looked at it with trepidation. I surmise that money problems will soon be arriving at my front door. This problem is both familiar, and also feels like the first time. I feel so close and yet so far away. Close in that I recently cracked this puzzle called marketing, far away in that there are just not enough paying customers.
While there has been a lot of progress in the last two years, I am still stuck with getting the customer I want. And, while we are finally building the right team, that means the costs have also started to creep up higher.
I need to make a quick decision that I dread. I feel like I am rolling back the progress.
OK, I am done ranting. To help get myself in the right head space, I know the right thing to do is step back a little bit, and take a lesson from the past. I ask myself, what has worked before?
How to Make "The Right Decision"
With a lot of the decisions we make when running a business, its more destructive for us not to make the decision than to make a decision and adjust along the way.
This is counter to what we have been told. We were told black and white. It seems like when I went to college—and with everything—there’s either the wrong way or the right way to do things. Of course, we always want to do things the right way.
I was looking for this elusive “the right way.” After 25 years of doing this, I’ve been through many big and small companies. I have worked with companies of all kinds, even multi-billion dollar companies. I have seen that rarely is it you have perfect data and you can make a decision perfectly.
You have to operate in incomplete information. The seasoned CEO, they understand this. They say, “Hey, I don’t have full information. I’m gonna make a guess. As long as it’s not fatal I’m gonna go with it.”
But I mentor new startups. The thinking there is different. If they don’t have the full picture they want to think about it, go back to school, they don’t want to face it.
“I’m gonna jog, I’m gonna go to a different country.” No, face the music and be done with it. Most of what we fear is not real anyway.
Just start. It is better to take action. The goal is not “not making mistakes.” The goal is not making fatal mistakes. What’s a fatal mistake? A mistake that you die from. It is very rare in this life to hit a fatal mistake. Our brain teaches us that the worst thing is to look foolish in front of people. That’s not a fatal mistake. More likely, something will feel like “the stupidest thing ever” for a while, but you learn from it.
If you're facing a tough decision, do it soon, but definitely make sure you are in the right head space. If that means taking a couple days to chill and calm down, then take them. But don't put off the decision. These are some trips and strategies that work for me when I have to make any kind of challenging decision:
Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude
1. Make a decision, no matter how difficult it is, just do it.
Do it soon, do it now.
2. Count your blessings.
We are surrounded by little miracles. Start by trying to count ten blessings in your own life.
3. Tiredness means you need to rest.
Nights are the enemy. Your mind is tired after a full day's battle and thinking. This is when desperation is at the highest.
4. Do your thinking in the morning.
There is always a new start each day, you might have just been too tired or blinded by your emotion the day before.
5. Ask for advice.
Good advice is sometimes cheap and free, seek it.
6. Surround yourself with support.
Your team, your family, your dog are all rooting for you.
7. Don’t look for perfection.
Just start. Action breeds clarity.
8. Adjust your perception.
Unhappiness is simply when the picture in your head doesn’t match the picture in front of you. The simple equation is the mismatch of how you want something to be, compared with how it is.
9. Fix the internal problem.
Identify which motivation is internal, i.e. true to you, and which one is based on external things like what other people will think of you. Use the internal motivation as your guide.
10. Time will heal but not on your schedule.
Step back and let time be on your side. Don’t force it.
Keep going. Perfection is linear is a #fakebelief.