I suffer on and off with “analysis paralysis.” I have many times let fear, lack of data, too much data, the unknown, the known, my opinions, other opinions, and who knows what else interfere with my sound resolve to make a decision.
Years ago, a close advisor told me, “Jason, make a decision when you have the information you can gather at hand. Do it, and stick by it until you have new data that makes that decision no longer the best decision. Then, simply make a new decision with the new data. The best decision at the time could last minutes, hours, months, years, or longer.
The key is, fearlessly decide until you have to adjust, and then adjust. That’s it. What makes it so difficult? Deciding means risk. Deciding means there are factors out of your control that are unknown that you will inevitably discover later (the new information). The phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know” is daunting when investing or representing a client and real money is on the line.
What if you simply cannot make a decision and the paralysis kicks in? Seek outside guidance from trusted advisors who are experts in the area when you are deep in the trenches and need to move forward and are stuck. Your advisors and friends want to help you. If you don’t have any, you aren’t looking hard enough. One of the amazing benefits of the S.E.C. is the incredible desire to help each other. Formal education is offered year round, and, during meetings, the problem-solving mentality by the group is one of the many great attributes of the S.E.C. family, a family that takes care of its members.
Recently, my resolve to make a decision was again put to the test. Dan Kessler and I worked hard to put together a strong and high-energy meeting in Greenville. The result of our work was an exciting registration of 94 attendees. Wow! 94, in Greenville—a registration number we were proud of hitting, and we were committed to executing an amazing three days for those 94 attendees.
Then, data started dropping on us 24/7 that we could not mitigate and was completely out of our control—a rapidly spreading virus and the media frenzy that accompanied it. At first, I was resolved steadfast to proceed, as were all of those wonderful advisors I spoke with about Greenville. Then new data came in, day after day after day. I remained stubbornly resolved. I thought, “This is the S.E.C., and we have an obligation to care for our members by putting on an excellent meeting. This is the S.E.C. We do not succumb to hype—we are data-driven leaders who help uplift the economy of our great nation.”
As more data poured in by the hour, it became quickly apparent that we as leaders needed to advise each other and end the paralysis surrounding the meeting just around the corner. The data of the risk outweighed the data of the reward to proceed with the meeting. This was a decision many of us did not have conviction for until we had more information and were able to counsel each other.
I was heartbroken, and it was obvious enough in my voice during our teleconference calls that more calls from my S.E.C. family came in immediately after the teleconference. The S.E.C. family not only makes hard decisions and helps each other with business, it also cares so much about its members and community that we are willing to bite the bitter bullet and cancel a meeting no one wanted to cancel.
I am proud to be an S.E.C. member. I am proud that together we make very difficult decisions.
I am more determined than ever to make the next meeting I lead a home run.
Most importantly, I know that when the next round of paralysis analysis happens in my business or personal life, I have a team of smart experts around me. I will take the data, make a decision, and move on until it is time for a new decision.