National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Do Decisions Right

BY Dave Durand

November 23-29, 2008 Issue | Posted 11/18/08 at 1:14 PM

 

I have a difficult time making decisions. I see other people in my office just whip out answers like factory workers assembling products. Is there a way I can speed things up and still make good judgments?

I am impressed by the several aspects of decision making you’ve referenced in your pithy question. You mentioned the facets of speed, quality and judgment. All of these are important things to analyze when addressing this issue.

Let’s begin with speed. The weight of the issue should always be considered when considering the speed of the decision. Choosing an item from a lunch menu should take less time than picking out carpeting. Of course, discerning a career should take longer than both. Be careful not to overvalue speed. The fact is that many decisions that appear fast to you may have taken more time than is apparent.

Good judgments are usually not the spontaneous “blurt outs” that you portray them to be in your question. They are more of a thought process made up of unseen efforts like learning, gathering and filtering information. People who appear to decide fast often have done a lot of research that enables them to be swift when it is time to make the actual “choice.”

Sales people like selling to that type of person because they know what they want, and their conviction makes the sales process go very swiftly. The fast buyer may appear to be spontaneous, but instead, he taps his knowledge and only needs a small amount of information or reassurance in order to move forward with confidence.

Likewise, people who have core moral convictions don’t deliberate on issues that are clearly right or wrong. The moral nature of an issue is the deciding factor more than the details of the individual situation. Abortion is a good example of this. A person without core convictions can be swayed by any number of variables, including the age of the mother, her financial situation, the health of the baby, and so on. All of these issues delay his ability to make a good decision.

Now let’s address your points of quality and judgment. The quality of a decision is not always measured by the actual choice that is made. It can be measured by the “management” of that choice. Sometimes people make poor decisions but later recognize their mistake while the decision is still playing out. If you are smart enough to not overestimate yourself, you stay alert and you can observe whether or not you might have made the wrong choice. For example, a manager who hires one person over another needs to observe the behaviors and results of the person she hires. If she made a poor choice, she may need to rectify its results by doing what Warren Bennis, the leadership professor, calls a “redo.”

Life gives us lots of redos if we are humble enough to accept them. We can’t take away the past, but we can do our best to minimize the damage done by poor choices. We can ask God to write straight with our crooked lines by empowering us with wisdom and perseverance when we miss the mark.

Our best decisions are made when we are in a state of grace. So be sure that you are living in accordance with God’s will and receiving the sacraments frequently.

Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.