Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Time to top making unnecessary decisions

Small things done consistently in strategic places create major impact. - Russell Bishop.

Decision-making is our most powerful leadership ap. We need to stop using it willy-nilly.

One of my very first clients, back in the eighties, was the CEO of a major multinational ad agency based in Covent Garden. For our initial session, he booked a conference room in a nearby hotel. Strange? - I thought.

As he revealed to me the depth, complexity and seriousness of the personal and professional issues he was dealing with, I could feel the sweat trickling down the back of my neck. I surreptitiously wiped by brow and waited till the ‘right’ response came up.

I took a deep breath, leaned forward, fixed his eyeballs onto mine and said with a slight tremor, ‘Before we go any further, you have a decision to make.’ ‘What’s that?’ he asked.

‘Do you want to die? Or do you want to live?’

This comes into the category of what we might call ‘necessary decisions’.
It’s occurring at the highest levels of the game of life.

Making decisions at the lower, more day-to-day tactical levels can often be seriously counter-productive.

Let me explain. Very often we can blur the critical distinction between decision and choice. Sometimes we use the terms as if they were synonymous. They’re not.

The word decide comes from the Latin, cidium. Meaning kill. Hence sui-cide, homi-cide, geno-cide, insecti-cide, etc-cide. To decide means to kill all other options (that could sometimes lead to our result). Occasionally we do want to kill off the alternatives - like deciding to get married or to give up crack cocaine. More often than not, we don’t.

When, as a child, say, we have made decisions about who we believe ourselves to be and our life purpose, etc, we kill off our ability to experience a greater truth as it unfolds. We close off to ideas and possibilities that contradict our childish coping strategies. We so often live our lives and design our business strategies around proving that our (misguided) self-beliefs are untrue. They usually are - so why waste energy proving it?

Choice, on the other hand is powerful in another way. Freedom of choice is heresy. Heresy comes from the Greek word for choice, heraitikos. If we make more free choices rather than feeling pressured into making ‘the right, or the best decision’ we may risk being a heretic but can feel liberated and remain flexible as reality unfolds thwarting our expectations as is its wont. Instead of defending a worn out point of view we are not committed to anything but flowing freely in the present.

Our culture mistakenly tends to associate strong leadership with adamant decision-making. Flexibility and changing direction is perceived as a weakness. This is utterly crass.

False certainty and resolute decisions based on fantasy predictions about the future is not just a weakness - it’s negligent and irresponsible. We have the power to create the future we want by making key strategic decisions and commitments where the rubber hits the road, keeping our eyes on the real track ahead and making moment-by-moment choices with agility and verve as stuff shows up to throw us off.

My aforementioned CEO got in touch with his true purpose. He decided to align his life and career with this inner truth. He confessed to being a closet poet and musician, and found the courage to express his creativity and sensitivity in a notoriously hostile environment. He decided to live, to conquer his fear and the life-threatening illness that was devouring him. He brought his life and his work back into line with a few, critical high-level decisions.

He escaped from a fatally stressful existence into a life of self awareness and sunshine. He bought a villa somewhere in the south of France. I haven’t heard from him in years but I’ll bet he retired there, a wealthy man, to enjoy his family, write poems and compose music.

You can explore my new, highly controversial, paradigm-busting book, Original Heresy - the light behind the shadows in the Bible, at

Or if you want to discover ‘who you really are’, email or just call me on 01608 663 916.

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