Do you remember the Matrix? the scene where Neo is confronted with a tough choice that will set the course of his future and the entire movie.
Morpheus says this "This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."
Our lives may not be as dramatic as the choices Neo had to make but the the first line is right "after this there is no turning back" we all have those small and big moments to choose. Whether consciously or unconsciously it has contributed to the sum of the results we've experienced today.
Your ability to make great choices in your focus, priorities, your communication, relationships and much more is one of the single most important skills for you to nurture. Not just in key account management but in life. You know better than I do that a simple series of wrong choices can ruin the success of an account. Through the apathy of others, poor leadership and simply lack of understanding.
We make our choices then our choices make us and no one can avoid it. Whether for good or bad something will happen.
I can't pretend I haven't made poor choices in life and still paying for them now. Have I learn't something from them? Absolutely! and I'm changing every day because of it.
How can we begin to exercise the ability to make better choices? Choices that aren't made poorly out of pressure or from reaction because the situation is unexpected. Or worse made because we always have, even when the result doesn't yield any better outcomes.
I wont pretend that all choices we make are created equal because some are just more challenging than others. This will be based on a number of things like its significance, the relationships impacted, the context, timing and maybe resources. Here are four principles you can take away today to help you cultivate the skill of making great choices.
Show up ON purpose
It wasn't until much later in my career that I discovered this powerful practice. Plan on purpose, then you'll turn up on purpose, do things on purpose and you will respond on purpose. If you are clear on what you need to do at work, if you know the goal then show up on purpose. When you're presented with new choices you'll know that the lens in which that choice is made should be the one that gets you ON purpose. ON track to your goal and helps you to achieve that. It might not always be clear, as some choices when presented can look good for us today but aren't great for us later. Be aware of the short cut choices, ones that don't challenge your growth or only give you a marginal win when you're looking for maximum results.
Weigh the cost
A phrase we know very well is "whats the worst that could happen?". This phrase only works in the context of doing something outside our comfort zone, that is based on the result of growing, learning and experiencing something that will hopefully change us for the better. Anything else outside of this is not worth your time and energy. You can obviously just do things for fun. Fun is a fundamental part of life. Does it change you? absolutely and hopefully dependent on the activity for the better.
Think from a different perspective
Not all choices can be made from one level of thinking. You need to think flexibly to consider the potential approaches you could take. There a numerous models out there that give a structure to decision making but frankly many of them are overly complex for no reason. We all will think emotionally, logically and retrospectively. Emotionally with your beliefs, values and senses, logically with the information and facts presented and retrospectively in response to your past experience. All of these thinking's are helpful and shouldn't be ignored because they all have their place. But, we shouldn't allow one to override the other. A way of protecting against this is to get another person you know and trust who is different from you to help with the decision if needed. Otherwise simply write out the outcome you want, the people you may need to speak with and tasks needed to be done. Work through each individually asking "what would need to be true here to move this to X outcome". If you really want to research more on this you might want to start with Edwards De Bono's book Six thinking hats.
Don't delay longer than needed
For decisions that are more complicated, that involve multiple people or is part of a series of other decisions you'll need to take time to evaluate it. Just don't take longer than needed. Set a deadline for making a decision based on the circumstance and set landmarks, calendar invites, involve someone where needed so you keep on track. This way you're less likely to procrastinate. Procrastination is a choice you don't want to keep making as it has the skill of keeping many from achieving what only the few have. Results that matter.
Here's the deal. In business the art of reflection and thinking isn't something that is either trained or cultivated. If practised intentionally it will fundamentally shift the quality of decisions you make, increase your ability to be resourceful in challenging situations and give you better outcomes more often.
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