“Leadership is action, not position.”
— Donald H. McGannon
A general in the United States armed forces created two separate teams to develop each of two possible plans to achieve a set objective. Both teams were filled with the smartest and most skilled people the general could find.
After several months of preparation, each team presented its plan to the general, outlining its virtues, costs, timeline for implementation, etc. Both plans were top notch.
When the presentations concluded, the general spoke…
“We will implement Plan A. Now get to work.”
Everyone left the room, except for the general and one of his aides.
“Excuse me, sir?” the aide said. “Both of the plans we heard were incredibly complex. How were you able to tell which one was better after such a short presentation?”
“I wasn’t. Both plans were excellent. But a decision needed to be made for us to move forward, and my job was to make that decision.”
What the general knows — and what all great leaders know — is that having power means making choices. The more power you have, the more choices you must make. And the more choices you make, the more power you have.
How comfortable are you with making choices?
- Have too much to do?
- Feel overwhelmed on a regular basis?
- Feel trapped or restricted by too many responsibilities?
- Have trouble finding time for what you really want to do?
If so, then on some level you’re avoiding making decisions about what to do and what not to do.
This can be a tough truth to hear. You look around at your life and you see things you “have to” do. Things you have NO CHOICE but to do. You feel trapped.
But no matter how trapped you feel, inside you is a leader ready to be set free. Inside you is a leader who has the courage to make choices in the face of uncertainty. Inside you is a leader who has the resiliency to overcome obstacles. Inside you is a leader who has the wisdom to learn from the mistakes of a “bad” choice, and the fortitude to choose again.
The leader in you knows that it is better to choose than not to choose. The leader in you knows that NOT choosing will cost you far more than making the “wrong” choice. And until you choose, you can never know what the right choice is!
This is by no means a justification for hasty decisions. Remember, the general put teams of his best men to work creating the plans from which he chose. Trust the leader in you to recognize the difference between due diligence and procrastination.
There is a leader in every one of us, no matter what our circumstances. Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, showed us this when he wrote: “…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Exercise your freedom to choose, and be a leader in your life and your business.
To exercise your power to choose, answer the following questions:
- Where in your life are you refusing to make a choice? Where in your life are you afraid to be a leader?
- What will it cost you if the choice you make turns out to be “wrong”? Be explicit. What are the actual costs to you in dollars, in time, in energy, in relationships, etc.?
- What valuable lessons might you learn from making that “wrong” choice? How might you benefit from those lessons if you implemented them over the next ten years?
- What is it costing you by not making this choice? Again, be explicit. List the costs to you in dollars, time, energy, relationships, etc.? Project those costs over the next ten years.
- And what are the benefits if the choice you make turns out to be right? List the value in terms of dollars, time, energy, relationships, etc.? Project those benefits over the next ten years.
About the Author:
Curtis G. Schmitt combines life coaching, spiritual teaching, and “time management from the inside out” to help his clients create greater peace, passion, and productivity in their lives and businesses. Learn how to make more powerful choices in his The 5 Master Keys to Effective Time Management & Planning teleclass.