Make the decision before someone tells you which way to live your life.
Organizational Leadership

Careful! That decision will be made for you. Quickly.

When you don’t make a decision, it will be made for you. By someone. And real soon.

A client of mine was overwhelmed with the sheer cliff-faced mountain standing before him. Like that Star Trek V movie when Captain Kirk was on shore leave, climbing a cliff and Dr. McCoy was watching through binoculars (there’s a fun mashup video on that site).

When there is so much to be done there are lots of ways to take the next step.

And that’s the solution:

The next step

So many times we let ourselves get overwhelmed by imagining us planting a flag on the mountain peak, yet seeing the gap between the peak and where we are is what makes the goal overwhelming.

It’s not.

But it sure feels like it!

What often happens is that we don’t know where to start. We don’t know what next step to take. And so we seek advice.

“Yes, I could do that! But wait – what does this chap over here say?”

“Oh yes, that’s a great idea! Wait a minute… this video looks interesting…”

And we sign up for a course or a webinar.

Days later we’ve absorbed – or at least heard – lots of materials, good ideas, processes that worked for others, and we are no close to the peak of the mountain than we were last week.

Suddenly we feel doubly overwhelmed when we look up and remember our original goal to plant a flag on the mountain peak.

We’ve been learning, and never got round to doing.

Choose one thing

Choose your next step and take it.

Every journey begins with the next step

One of the dangers is that while we have our head down learning how we might approach climbing the mountain (or just panicking that we still haven’t begun), someone else has already started. They have found the sherpa, mapped the route, bought the gear, eaten well, and are now yelling at you around the corner to follow them.

Choose your next step.

Follow, or begin.

Which step will it be?

Up, or around?

Tough one.

And the overwhelm begins again.

Make that decision!

It doesn’t matter.

At this point, it does not matter which step you take. The point is, if you want to plant a flag on the mountain peak, you need to take a step. Yours may not be the first flag, but at least it is better being one of many flags than having no flag there at all. If you don’t take one step towards your goals, you will be guaranteed to never reach them.

But somebody else will.

Yes, there is risk making any decision!

But make it you must.

Fortunately for my client, when I yelled at her to follow me, I’d already found a smooth, gentle slope suitable for hiking. No rock-climbing, cliff-face, fear-mongering trying scaling the heights with nothing but a hammer, pegs, some rope and powder for her hands. Just a nice, gentle walk.

If you don’t decide to take a step, someone else will take it for you. Or ahead of you. They will design your future. You will be living someone else’s dream.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is my current end goal?
  2. What task could I do today that will take me closer to that goal?
  3. What step do I need to take towards today’s task?
  4. What’s stopping me from taking that step?
  5. Why am I still reading Stephen’s expert advice and not actually taking that step?


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