Written by: Vedant Kulkarni, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Decision-making can be challenging and time-consuming. However, how about enhancing your decision-making skills by learning from the lives of those who mastered it? In the next 5-7min of reading, you'll gain valuable insights on decision-making from the lives of influential individuals like J.K. Rowling and Michael Jordan.
Imagine you have to make a life-changing decision. Maybe you have to choose between two career paths, two business opportunities, or two romantic partners. How do you decide? Do you flip a coin? Do you follow your gut? Do you ask for advice? Do you make a pros and cons list? Or do you freeze, procrastinate, waste too much time thinking, or avoid making the decision altogether? If you are reading this, you probably are struggling or have struggled with decision-making at some point in your life. You may also wonder how some people seem to make decisions effortlessly and confidently. What do they know that you don’t? The next few minutes of reading this article will reveal to you the secrets of decision-making, including some of the most powerful strategies from the world’s top leaders. Leaders like:
Dwight Eisenhower, the former U.S. president and World War II general had to decide whether to launch the D-Day invasion
Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player who had to decide whether to pursue his passion for baseball or return to the NBA
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and the author of Lean In had to decide whether to join Google or Facebook
Howard Schultz, the founder and former CEO of Starbucks had to decide whether to buy a small coffee company or give up on his dream
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series had to decide whether to change her name and her story to get published
So hold tight and let's dive in! (Also, make sure not to miss the 'How to implement section' towards the end of the article)
The Art And Science Of Decision-Making
Decision-making is not only a skill but also an art and a science. Many psychological theories and models explain how people make decisions and how to improve them. But there is also an art to decision-making. There is a creative and emotional aspect that involves intuition, imagination, and inspiration. There is a personal and subjective element that involves your values, beliefs, and goals.
And there is no better way to learn the art of decision-making than from those who have mastered it.
Trust Your Gut Like Howard Schultz
Howard Schultz, the founder and former CEO of Starbucks, transformed Starbucks from a small coffee roaster with six stores to a global brand with over 30,000 locations. But he almost missed his chance to do that. He almost gave up on his dream. He once said: “I had to make a decision. I had to decide whether to buy Starbucks or walk away.”
Schultz’s decision was not an easy one. He had to raise $3.8 million in 90 days to buy Starbucks from its original owners. He had no money, no connections, no experience. He had to face a competitive buyer who offered $4 million in cash for Starbucks. He had no leverage, no advantage, no guarantee. He had no mentor, no partner, no friend. He had only one thing: his gut feeling. His gut feeling told him that Starbucks was his destiny. His gut feeling told him that he had a vision for Starbucks that no one else had. His gut feeling told him that he had to buy Starbucks or regret it for the rest of his life. By listening to his inner voice, he was filled with determination to crack the challenge whatever it took. He found an ally who helped him secure the deal: Bill Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft’s co-founder. He was able to raise the funds and buy Starbucks in August 1987. He was also able to pursue his vision and passion for Starbucks which changed the world of coffee. His intuition-backed decision-making made him the way to his fortunes.
Lean Into Feedback Like Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and the author of Lean In, helped Facebook grow from a social network with 70 million users to a global platform with over 2.8 billion users and generate over $86 billion in revenue in 2020. But she was not always a leader. She was also a learner. A lifelong learner. She once said:
“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” She also says that feedback helps us build trust, rapport, and collaboration with others, and makes the decision-making process seamless. But how does she do that? She follows four rules for feedback: Be specific; Be respectful; Be reflective; Be responsive. Using the power of feedback, decision-making can become as obvious as it can ever be because you are no longer circling inside your mind. You need to seek and receive feedback.
Change It To A Unicorn Like J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has sold over 500 million copies of her books, won numerous awards and honors, and inspired millions of readers and fans around the world. But she was not always a winner. She was also a loser. A big loser. Rowling’s failure was not a single event, but a series of events that shaped her life and career. She was a single mother living on welfare, struggling with mental health issues. She wrote her first Harry Potter book in cafes and on napkins while taking care of her daughter. She sent her manuscript to 12 publishers, but they all rejected it. One of them even advised her to get a day job, as there was no money in children’s books. She kept revising and improving her manuscript until she found an agent who believed in her story. In her journey to getting published, she had to change her stories, characters and even her name from Joanne Rowling to J.K. Rowling. Rowling’s decision shows her flexibility, adaptability, and creativity. Sometimes it's daunting to make a change, but you need to be flexible and get through the tough phase chasing the shining ray of hope that lies ahead. She was willing to change her own name and her story to get published. She changed it to a unicorn: a magical phenomenon that captivated millions of readers and fans around the world and a billion-dollar business empire that spanned books, movies, merchandise, theme parks, and more. Rowling says:“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
On A time Crunch? Learn Dwight's: Do, Decide, Delegate, And Delete Model
Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II and the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, had to make some of the most difficult decisions in history. He had to decide whether to launch the D-Day invasion, whether to use nuclear weapons against Japan, and how to deal with the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Suez Crisis. How did he do it all efficiently without messing with deadlines? He used a simple but powerful technique for prioritizing his tasks and decisions. He divided them into four categories based on their urgency and importance:
Do: Tasks that are urgent and important(require immediate attention and action).
Decide: Tasks that are important but not urgent (require careful planning before taking action).
Delegate: Tasks that are urgent but not important (can be delegated to those who can handle them more efficiently or effectively).
Delete: Tasks that are neither urgent nor important (can be ignored without significant consequences).
Though this might sound like a really basic and simple technique, ask yourself, are you planning your tasks the way they should be planned? Eisenhower once said:
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Eisenhower’s technique can help you manage your time, energy, and resources more effectively and help avoid procrastination, distraction, and stress in decision-making.
Be Like Mike: Learn From Your Failures
Michael Jordan won six NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, and built a billion-dollar business empire. But he too, was not skipped by failures. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” he once said. He used failure as fuel for his success. But how did he do that? He asked himself three questions after every failure:
What did I do wrong?
What did I do right?
What can I do better next time? By asking these questions, was also able to maintain his confidence, motivation, and passion and turn his setbacks into decisions that made him win. Decision-making involves accepting and understanding failures, not ignoring them. This way you make decisions better. Jordan said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Well, this is how some of the world's most successful people made amazing decisions to change theirs and millions of other lives. But how do you make sure that you follow your gut (have great intuitions), have astounding creativity, rise beyond failures, and take perfect decisions in almost no time? Read on :)
Implementing The Best-Decision Making Skills In Your Life
In our fast-paced lives, we are often burdened with numerous tasks and limited time, leading to overwhelming thoughts and stress. This constant hustle can cause an increase in cortisol levels, hindering effective communication between brain cells and resulting in confusion and foggy thinking. When this trigger persists, it brings forth additional challenges such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and even depression. In such a state of mind, our ability to think is compromised, leading to impulsive decisions, and decreased energy and focus. All of this leads to a situation where we are not able to take the right decisions. To attain clarity in decision-making along with creativity and intuition, two crucial elements are necessary: focus and relaxation (yes, simultaneously!). Although we may possess the required focus most of the time, finding a calm and relaxed state during moments of stress or overthinking is often challenging. Forcing ourselves to relax simply doesn't work—it's akin to trying to fall asleep by telling your mind to sleep. This is where a tangible tool becomes necessary.
The Tool? Breath
Did you know that our emotions can affect our breathing patterns? It's true! When we're feeling anxious, our breath becomes shallow and weak. And when we're sad, our breathing can become abrupt and irregular. But here's the interesting part - it works the other way too! If we adopt these specific breathing patterns deliberately, we can evoke the associated emotions. So if you want to feel happy and peaceful, taking long, deep breaths is key. It can help bring you back to a calm state where rationality guides your actions. Researchers at Harvard found that deliberately taking a few deep breaths before making important choices can improve problem-solving abilities, and breathing practices can significantly help reduce stress and anxiety at the workplace.
A Step Deeper
If we utilize the power of our breath even further, we can easily experience a deeper state of bliss and calm that can yield some of the most amazing intuitions possible. How much impact can it bring in your business or relationships if you could boost your decision-making skills and build a confident, cheerful personality free from stress? Thus, we designed a unique technique to take the mind out of constant overthinking and stress and bring it to a tranquil and blissful state in as little as 15odd minutes – it's neither mindfulness nor any kind of 'self-help'. Curious to know how? Know more at our upcoming webinar (it's free). I'll also share in the webinar: 3 secrets to overcoming anxiety, overthinking, and stress regardless of the work/life situation you are in. So make sure that you do not miss it :)
In A Nutshell
I hope you learned some invaluable lessons from the lives of the world's most successful people who made life-transforming decisions. Implementing these learnings in your decision-making process is the first step. A decision is what can change a life, rather millions of lives. Taking decisions like this is easy if you have a stress-free and blissful state of mind. Just like poems spring from within you when you are relaxed and natural intuitive decisions come up when you are free from stress and emotional storms.
If you too imagine yourself building a confident and poised approach to decision-making, where any decision-making process doesn't tremble you or leave you up in confusion, join me at the webinar where I show you exactly how to go about it (the webinar registrations are limited; so, if the link is still open, save your seat as soon as possible!).
Thank you for reading till the end and for deciding to master the art and science of decision-making.
Happy Decision Making!
Vedant Kulkarni, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Vedant is an internationally acclaimed executive well-being coach, aka 'Friend In Need' for high performers like you, to help you clear the clutter of anxiety, overthinking and depression, take control of your emotions & feelings, and set up a road map to reach the top of your industry. Through his decades of experience and expertise he developed unique short, and effortless meditative techniques which are helping thousands high-performing executives, founders, employees, and artists to reclaim their peace of mind, take their performance to the peak, find love in what they do, and explore deeper secrets of this mind, and the life. Over the last decade, Vedant has guided CEOs, Executive Directors, and Heads of State from across the world, advised the United Nations, and closely worked with the World Health Organization on implementing solutions on mental health & wellbeing.